Are Soft Skills Tangible, Especially For Entry-Level Job Seekers?

I believe transferable skills are a great way to fill in some of the content required for an early career jobseeker. Especially when most of their content deals with education, experiential learning/undergraduate roles/internships, and affiliations/memberships. It’s always a good idea to flesh soft skills into your summary. The summary and only the summary. Nowhere else should soft skills be utilized on the resume. Do not use personal pronouns either (note: you can use soft skills and personal pronouns on your coverletter). It’s best to utilize them as a leading descriptor.

For instance, “Results-focused, goal-oriented cross-functional communicator with tireless work ethic, early career experience, and a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering.” or “Solutions-oriented, pragmatic critical thinker with digital fluency and an ability to interface with diverse teams to communicate insights for advancing shared organizational goals.” are some examples.

The best soft skills are the ones relating to your work ethic, ability to perform in the targeted role and bottom-line/results-driven. This allows the hiring manager to understand you are concerned with the bottom-line and not there to waste time or money. A good way to refine these skills is to first observe and self-reflect on what you feel are your top 5-10 skills. That way you’re aware and able to actually improve upon those through hands-on experience or continuing education. The best way to do this in college is to seek out mentors (students, teachers, administrative members, career counselors, etc.) and be fully transparent on what you expect from them and how you can compensate them accordingly for their support (does not have to be monetary, maybe some volunteering, tutoring, or you mentoring them on some thought leadership you can provide…all of which can be bartered).

The time though is to start now! It will still take you some time in the actual workforce to even improve upon the additional skills you will acquire, let alone some of the original skills you’re proud of while still in school and very much green. I have seen candidates utilize soft skills during an interview way too much as a crutch. My advice is to save those soft skills for the resume’s summary (and even the coverletter) and speak to your hands-on or educational project work that translates to the new role. Speak to items that gained you actual experience…employers will value that over soft skills during the interview.

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