Why soft skills should be included on your resume

By Scot Herrick | Resume Tips

Jan 19

You know what soft skills are, right? Those are the “playing well in the sandbox with others” skills. People skills.

They are the ways that you interact with the team, how you handle stress on the job, how you handle a “fast-paced environment.” It seems every company has a “fast-paced environment.”

But putting these people job skills on your resume? Is it really worth it?

The short answer: Yes.

But pulling up a list of “85 soft skills to put on your resume” is not the answer. Getting the interview doesn’t work that way.

Here’s why.

Soft skills on your resume are also part of the job description

If you look at job descriptions for positions you qualify for, you’ll notice that almost all of them include what are categorized as soft skills: works well in a fast-paced environment, team player, able to communicate with multiple (read: high) levels of management.

Those sorts of things have nothing to do with “hard” job skills — things like the ability to program in Pearl, for instance.

Companies don’t put soft skills on the job description for the fun of it. They actually want you to have those sorts of skills because they believe it helps describe their underlying corporate culture. It also may simply be their belief as to what their culture is in the company; but that’s a different story.

Okay, these soft skills are shown on the job description. So what?

It’s a good question.

The more job skills you have matching the job description, the better your chance of getting an interview

We all need to think about this for a bit from the viewpoint of a person reading your resume.

No matter how good, most likely, the person reading your resume won’t know nor understand what you do nearly as well as, well, how well you know your job. They don’t assume that because you say X, it implies A, B, and C.

So they are looking for check marks: does your resume say you have the skill that matches up with the job description? If yes, you get a check mark. If no, you don’t. Whoever has the most checkmarks gets the interview.

Is this fair? Of course not. But people want to point to what I call ‘the outward and visible signs of the inward and spiritual grace’ that you have the job skills. And that means they are on the resume. Not implied. But there.

When soft skills are part of the job description, it means you get more check marks for having the job skills that are required.

And the person with the most checkmarks gets the interview. That is all the resume does — get you an interview.

There are worse things than getting the interview…

Showing how you used these soft skills matters

You can’t just flat-out say you’re a ‘good team player’ and leave it at that. Nor can you just list “85” soft job skills on the resume. It doesn’t work that way.

Resumes need to show you use the job skills you have. That means that in the body of the resume, showing you are a good team player means you have to incorporate an example of that in the resume. (See: outward and visible signs above). And, as an aside, you need to talk about that during an interview as well.

By doing so, you get more check marks from your resume to the job description and that leads to more interviews.

Adding soft skills to your resume matters

While many companies may be pushy and picky about demonstrating the ‘hard’ job skills, there are also a decent number of companies who will look at your job skills, find you a little short on exactly what is needed, but the soft skills will push them over the edge and give you the interview.


Because your soft skills look like they could match up well with the team and culture. That you learn well and what you don’t know in the ‘hard’ job skills could be taught. That, in some companies, getting the right fit for the culture means a better probability that you’ll stay, saving rework on the hire.

Leaving off your soft skills — especially if you have the ones mentioned in the job description — is a critical mistake too many people make when preparing their resume. You want every advantage going up against the (Hundreds? Thousands?) other resumes submitted for the job.

It’s a way to win the interview quest.

See more resume tips and my approach to building resumes. Check out my Resume Tips page.