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5 Smart Ways to Add Soft Skills to Your Resume (and the Hard Skill You Must Remove)

soft skills

Many resume trends come and go. You might be taking up valuable space with meaningless objective statements or vague buzzwords. Or you may be lowering your chances to win the job by including your job duties, instead of why and how you were successful in each responsibility. 

In this same vein, many j0b seekers are not sure what skills they should put on their resume. Does an employer need to know if you can use basic office technology or not? How many soft skills should you list? What is the difference between hard and soft skills anyway

Hard skills are the specific competencies required in your profession, abilities you have earned through professional experience and training. Soft skills, on the other hand, are the personal and interpersonal qualities that make you a strong co-worker and dedicated employee. 

Here, we’ll talk about how to meaningfully list – and demonstrate – your skills on a resume.

Use Your Executive Summary Effectively

You may have once been told to include an Executive Summary at the beginning of your resume. Now, you want to use that prime spot to include an experience summary, listing the skills you will bring to the position. 

Remember, this experience summary will not be too long – think one or two sentences – so be sure you focus on the skills most relevant to the position. 

You don’t want the hiring manager to only read that you have these skills, however. Later, you should support every mention of possessing a skill with clearly-connected examples from the positions you have held in the past. 

Add a Skills Section

If you can’t include all of your skills in your experience summary, where should you put them? Many people writing a chronological resume – the most common resume type – include them after the Work History section in a bulleted list. 

Title this section “Additional Skills.” Then, as needed, you can divide the section into “Hard Skills” and “Soft Skills” if you like. 

Use The Job Post’s Wording

Somewhere in your resume, you need to list the hard skills requested in the job posting. You may not have all of them, but include as many as you do have. You don’t need to use a thesaurus to find similar words, either; feel free to include skill words taken directly from the posting. This is because many companies use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) that screen resumes to ensure they match the job requirements. 

Name Your Soft Skills and Prove Them

When it comes to what skills you should put on your resume, there are many categories of soft skills you should include. These are:

  • Problem solving skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Time management skills
  • Customer service skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Communication and listening skills
  • Transferable skills

You can include your soft skills in your “Additional Skills” section – but don’t only include them there. 

You also want to make sure you emphasize these skills by also including them in your Work History section. While you may not repeat that you have “Leadership Skills,” you should demonstrate this ability by mentioning how, for instance, “you led a team of 20 individuals through a six-month period of transitional change,” or similar. 

Use “Skill Clusters” to Demonstrate Your Value

When reading a job posting, you don’t only want to identify and repeat the skills language used. Rather, you want to find clusters of skills. 

“‘Direction and support to employees’ might entail other skills like mentoring, supervision, and resource allocation – each of which might be featured in their own bullet point in one or another of your positions,” writes Arnie Fertig for Ivy Exec. 

If you aren’t ready to apply for a specific job, too, you can also start creating your resume by searching for top skills in your field. Then, once you find the top skills companies are looking for, you can start thinking of examples of how you have demonstrated these skills in the past. 

Remove Microsoft Office From Your Resume

There was a time when it was common practice to list your expertise in Microsoft Word or PowerPoint on a resume. Now, it is standard practice to be able to use these programs. The only time you should list your expertise in certain software is if they require an unusual expertise – like Stata – or are uniquely relevant to the position. 

Keep in Mind the Purpose of a Resume

When deciding what skills to include on your resume, think about the purpose of this document. First, make sure that it demonstrates how you possess the skills and qualifications requested in the job posting. At the same time, it should not “obscure your most important achievements by burying the reader in unnecessary details.”

With this goal in mind, it’s easy to decide what skills you should put on your resume. Include three types of skills: those that convey your fit with the position, those that prove you’ll be a strong colleague and employee, and finally, those that set you apart from the crowd.


Need help writing your resume? Meet with an Ivy Exec Career Coach!


About the Author

Ivy Exec is the premier resource for professionals seeking career advancement. Whether you are on the job, or looking for your next one - Ivy Exec has the tools you need.