Soft skills are an essential element of leadership. Technical skills and abilities are more tangible, but truly effective leaders and managers foster success on their teams through crucial soft skills that can be hard to define and harder to articulate on a resume. These soft skills are often the difference between being a defining leader and a change agent and simply being an adequate manager. So what exactly are soft skills, and how do you articulate them effectively? This guide will help you identify and highlight your personal strengths.
Communication is a skill that is talked about and discussed in interviews, but how do you convey that you are a great communicator on a resume? Truly great communicators can articulate a vision to a team in a way that motivates them to complete goals and embrace the idea. There is a significant difference between coming up with an initiative and implementing those ideas. Great communication entails:
- Anticipating Questions – Telling someone your idea and how it impacts their role is only part of the battle. Having the why and articulating the overall vision can help your staff get on board and allow them to feel like they are an engaged part of the process.
- Involving Stakeholders – Knowing who to talk to and communicate with is almost as important as what you are saying. Scheduling a call and leaving someone off of it, or failing to loop in all relevant parties can kill even the most well-intentioned initiatives.
- Productive Communication – No one likes meetings for the sake of meetings. Effective communication has a point, and meetings or conference calls should always end with clear takeaways and direction. Planned follow-ups add a necessary element of structure to projects.
- Listening – Let people challenge your ideas. It’s best to get questions and skepticism out in the open, rather than letting concerns fester beneath the surface. If you have thought things through its a chance to explain your thinking, if someone raises a point you haven’t considered of all the better – take the criticism seriously and explore it.
- Empathizing – Understanding the needs and concerns of the people who work for you is a crucial element of being a good manager. Empathy allows managers to understand how the decisions they make will impact others, and good communication skills can provide this perspective.
Highlighting Communication on Your Resume
One great way to show that you are an effective communicator is to demonstrate initiatives you were able to implement across departments or throughout the company. Weave communication into the description of how you were able to implement a strategy and the steps you took. Chances are you had to lead meetings, sell your idea to peers, and work cross-functionally. Share that information and highlight the steps you took to ensure effective communication.
How a manager empowers their staff to succeed is often an overlooked skillset, but it is something that separates the average manager from the great. Great managers are not intimidated by the success of the people they supervise; rather, they take pride in the career development and growth of staff. Empowerment is something of a balancing act – you want staff to take the reins on projects that you are ultimately responsible for, but you also have to make sure they are in a position to succeed.
- Ownership – A great manager knows how to delegate and allow staff to take ownership of projects.
- Career Development – Effective managers know the strengths and goals of their employees and work to help them succeed and achieve those goals. Providing employees training opportunities and constructive feedback are essential elements of managing employees. It’s also a great way to foster loyalty and retain star performers.
- Proper Direction – This dovetails back to communication, but a great manager gives a clear direction to staff and works to place them in a position to succeed without micromanaging the project.
Showcasing Empowerment on a Resume
The success of your team reflects on your effectiveness as a manager. Articulating their accomplishments and the role you played to help them achieve those goals shows your leadership ability and that you are truly a team leader.
Great managers have to make tough decisions. There are plenty of managers who struggle with decision-making. They fear they will make a mistake. Or they wait, and wait, and wait, wanting some magic data or analysis to appear that will tell them what the right choice is, rather than diving in and taking responsibility. Great managers understand that indecisiveness is worst than making a decision that does not initially work out.
- Morale Boost – Indecisiveness will confuse your staff and frustrate your high performers. Employees want to know what they need to do and want a direction. A decisive leader is good for morale.
- Learning from Mistakes – Everyone makes decisions that don’t work out; however, this allows companies to make adjustments and iterate. Indecisiveness slows down the process.
- Promoting Innovation – Companies need employees who are willing to pitch ideas and go out on a limb. Fear of decisions (or failure) undercuts motivation and innovation. It always seems safer to do nothing than to try and do something different. Indecisive managers play into these fears.
Decisiveness on Your Resume
Highlight examples when you had to make a tough decision and how you went about making the decision. Perhaps it was reevaluating third-party vendors, or deciding on a web design, or maybe you had to restructure staff. There are many ways to demonstrate and highlight your decisiveness on a resume and how you helped foster innovation and experimentation.
Remember to Highlight Your Soft Skills
Soft skills are the key to implementing a vision and being a successful manager. Highlighting such skills on your resume can truly set you apart from the other candidates. When building your resume remember to weave soft skill examples into accomplishments and job responsibilities. Even if its not something you realized at the time, you likely used soft skills such as communication, empowerment, and decision-making every day. When it comes to your resume, just remember to highlight how each played a part in your success.
Need help crafting the perfect resume? Meet with a career advisor or coach.