So you don’t have the 2 years of work experience the job you’re applying to recommends? Don’t give up just yet! 24 Seven’s recruiters have actually found that more and more companies are beginning to assess candidates based on the soft skills they possess, not just their past work experience. Some of the most valued soft skills include the ability to learn quickly, a desire to work with others, and a clear communication style. So how can you show your hiring manager that you have these skills without simply stating the obvious?
Know what a soft skill is
I’m sure you can guess how important “soft skills” are in the workplace. But first let's discuss what "soft skills" actually are....Wikipedia describes soft skills as “...a term often associated with a person's EQ (Emotional Intelligence Quotient), the cluster of personality traits, social graces, communication, language, personal habits, interpersonal skills, managing people, leadership, etc. that characterize relationships with other people.” Basically, when a hiring manager is assessing you for your soft skills, they are seeing if you are someone that can adapt, learn and fit into the corporate culture of the company. In fact, if you fail to display your soft skills you may not get the job, even if you are the most qualified. Some examples of said soft skills are:
Now let's dive into 3 ways to use soft skills to get the job of your dreams.
#1 Tell a story
People are more likely to connect to a story that’s personal, and you have a number of chances to accurately tell your story to your hiring manager through your cover letter, your resume, and your interview. Your cover letter is the first thing your hiring manager will read about you. When you are writing, imagine this as your first conversation. Use your past experiences to create a story that highlight your soft skills. For an example of this, our friends at The Muse used:“I not only executed all updates on schedule, but I also took on the responsibility to train and mentor two new employees.” The key soft skill here is this person's ability to train and mentor new employees.
#2 Highlight your soft skills unconventionally
You may not have the traditional work experience your employer is looking for, but that doesn’t mean you should neglect showing any soft skills you do have. Once again be sure to include specific examples of where your soft skills came into play on your cover letter or resume. If you managed a team, organized a project timeline, or effectively communicated goals be sure it’s on your resume. Instead of simply stating what you did in your past employment, use adjectives to elaborate (ie: independent, detail-oriented etc). This will weave a story, but still keep it short and sweet.
#3 Create a killer conversational interview
Conversational interviews are the most successful because it’s not the standard Q&A. You’re speaking on an engaging yet professional level where you have the best opportunity to convey your soft skills. Come prepared with examples of past successes that again highlight skills beyond the functional nature of the position. Let’s not forget the importance of the way you non-verbally communicate the second you enter the building. When you first arrive, thank your interviewer for having you and express how excited you are to be there. This shows you're personable, which is a key soft skill. When the interview begins be an active, not passive listener. Self-confidence is an important trait. If you are a person that is shy, fake it 'til you make it. Practice your answers at home, but be sure not to sound too rehearsed. And finally, be sure to ask questions that show you’ve been listening and done your research which shows your communication and adaptability skills. Good luck!