How to add soft skills to your resume

In last week’s blog I began answering a reader’s question related to why and how soft skills related information should be added to your resume. My last blog described the “why”, in this blog I’ll describe the “how”.

To answer this part of the question, let’s first categorize the types of soft skills that could be included in your resume and the questions that the inclusion of these soft skills should answer. Certainly, this list could be categorized in a many different ways, but I like to categorize it this way:

• Communication: Can you speak to and listen to others? • Ethics: Are you moral in regard to your personal and business practices? • Flexibility: How well do you deal with change and are you willing to perform tasks outside your comfort zone? • Leadership: Can you gain the respect of others and lead people with or without formal organizational authority • Motivation: Are you a self starter and internally driven to work hard and do well? • Problem solving: Can you get things done? • Teamwork: Do you work well with others?

A subtle way to enhance your resume to give the reader an understanding of your soft skill based attributes is not by saying you are a self-starter, innovative, or a team player. It is by describing not only what you did, but how you did it. For example, instead of saying “Successfully implemented a new accounting system”, say “Successfully formed and led a team of IT and Finance professionals to implement a new Oracle based accounting system”.

This second description, like the first, states that you successfully implemented a new accounting system. The second description, however, also tells the reader the following:

• You formed a team • You had the trust of IT management and Finance management because they allowed you to build and lead the implementation team • You have the ability to lead IT professionals • You have the ability to lead non-IT professionals • You have an understanding of how to implement an Oracle based application • You have project management experience

As you can see, a simple change in how you define a single accomplishment can greatly enhance your desirability to the reader. Imagine the power you can bring to your resume if you present all of your accomplishments in this manner.

Remember, the only things the reader of your resume will know about you is what you say in your resume. Therefore, the better you say it, the better chance you have of getting the call for an interview.

In addition to enhancing the descriptions of your accomplishments within your resume, there is another way to illustrate your soft skill capabilities. This can be done by including the names of soft skills classes that you have taken within the education section of your resume. Including these classes in this way has two advantages. First, it shows that you have taken classes such as negotiation, dealing with difficult employees, conflict management, leading without authority, or whatever other classes you have taken. Second, the mere fact that you have taken these classes and chosen to include them on your resume shows the importance to you of having well honed soft skills.

If you have not yet taken these types of soft skill classes, there is no time like the present. These classes may be

• Offered free at your current employer • If you are currently unemployed, these and other classes may be available to you at little or no cost through state agencies and other organizations helping those in transition • At low cost though local training providers • At seminars through local professional associations • Online in a webinar format

Taking these classes will not only provide you with insights that will help you professionally, it will also enhance your resume and help you get that next interview.

If you have any questions about your career in IT, please email me at eric@ManagerMechanics.com or find me on Twitter at @EricPBloom.

Until next time, work hard, work smart, and continue to grow.

Read more of Eric Bloom's Your IT Career blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Eric on Twitter at @EricPBloom. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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