How to Showcase Your Soft Skills to Prospective Employers

How to Showcase Your Soft Skills to Prospective Employers
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A résumé is one of your primary self-marketing documents. It is you on paper. It is a reflection of your capabilities, experience and accomplishments.


On a two-page private-sector résumé, every line counts. Each entry should support your objective and emphasize the skill the employer is seeking. It should include both your hard and soft skills. 


Hard skills show you have the abilities and expertise in a specific area. As a military pilot, my hard skill was aviation. Yours might be logistics, finance, acquisition, or intelligence, just to name a few.


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Soft skills are those transferrable qualities which show you would be a great fit anywhere –leadership, communication, and interpersonal skills, for example. You have honed your intangible soft skills over a lifetime of employment, volunteer, and social activities. Realize that most employers want the cake (your hard skills), but enjoy some icing (soft skills), too! 


In addition to the above list, here a few more transferrable soft skills employers frequently cite in their job announcements. Ask yourself (and then answer) these sample questions to show the impacts of your past actions, and how could then benefit your prospective employer. 


Teamwork skills. Have you supervised and managed a work group or department? (Who? How many? List some accomplishments.)  


Adaptability/flexibility skills. How have you accomplished more with the same or fewer resources? (Did you save time? Save money?)


[RELATED: Veterans May Earn More Than Civilians in Post-Military Careers, Study Shows]


Problem-solving skills. Have you identified difficult problem(s) others did not see? (What problems? What were the results?)


Organizational skills. How have you made getting work done easier? (Or safer? Or more accurate? Or more efficient?)    


Analytical skills. Have you prepared original reports, articles and presentations? (What were they? Why were they important? What were the long-term impacts?)  


Pro tip: Be sure to focus on the employer’s needs by dissecting the job announcement to determine exactly what they want in a successful candidate. Whether they are hard or soft skills, be sure to cite specific results, impacts, and accomplishments; tell them how you can use the value-added skill to their benefit. Quantify your accomplishments whenever possible. 


Looking for more information on résumé development? MOAA Premium and Life members have access to valuable resources and services.


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About the Author

Col. Brian D. Anderson, USAF (Ret)
Col. Brian D. Anderson, USAF (Ret)

Anderson joined the staff of MOAA's Career Transition Services Department in August 2011. He served 26 years in the U.S. Air Force in a wide range of command and staff assignments. Connect with him on LinkedIn.