Soft Skills on a Techie's resume: You must be kidding

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I’ve spent the last ten years building my technical skills and my resume shows it. I was just told that I should also add soft skills to my resume. Should I, and if yes, then why and how?

This is a great question, thank you for asking. As funny as it may sound, yes, adding soft skill related items to your resume can definitely be to your advantage. In this week’s blog I’ll explain why including soft skills in your resume is important. Next week I’ll explain how soft skills can be subtly incorporated into and/or specifically and strategically placed within your resume.

There are four main reasons why it is to your advantage to add soft skills related information to your resume.

To differentiate yourself from your competition
Unless your skill set is extremely unique, is in short supply, and is in very high demand, then you will be directly competing with other talented professionals with similar experience and similar skills. That said, on paper you will most likely look very similar to your competition vying for the same job. If you are a good writer, a natural leader, work well with business users, make great presentations, or have other strong non-technical skills, why not use these skills to help raise your resume to the top of the pile? It can only be to your advantage to do so. After all, if you were primarily a Java developer, but were also technically competent in C## or PL/SQL, you would include them on your resume. Soft skills are also skills, you just use them on people rather than computers.

To illustrate that you can be a team player
Whether you are hiring a CEO, CIO, programmer, or college intern, technical skill, in regard to being able to do the job, is certainly an important factor, but it’s not the only factor. “Fit” is also an extremely important consideration. “Fit” refers to your ability to work well with the team. The late Michael Jackson early in his career sang a song saying “One bad apple can spoil the whole bunch”. Well, it was true in the context of his song, but it’s also true regarding what a bad hire can do to a team’s morale and productivity. In fact, new employee fit from a non-technical perspective is a primary reason that new employees (or contractors) leave on their own or are asked to do so. That said, providing information on your resume as to your ability to work with others can be a key factor of being selected for an interview or having your resume sadly discarded into the recycle bin next to the hiring manager’s desk.

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