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Are Soft Skills Recession-Proof Skills?

...and do they belong in the resume?

I've been noticing soft skills being talked about a lot lately in the media. There's been a big push for job-seekers to emphasize them in their applications. While I absolutely agree that soft skills are critical to succeed at work, I feel a bit conflicted. I wonder if the resume is really the place for them?

Here's the thing: Soft skills are subjective. Anyone can say that they have great interpersonal skills. I can call myself a team player with amazing time management skills. Everyone can say those things. They don't mean anything unless you can show proof.

With this in mind, how might we effectively infuse important soft skills into a resume?

It's actually pretty easy! Here’s the framework I use with clients.

  1. Identify Key Skills

    Read through the job posting and pick out 9-12 transferable skills to highlight. You can do this by reading through the posting closely to spot skills-based keywords.

    Here's a snippet of an exercise in my workforce development training program. Counselors have to spot 12 transferable skills in the job posting to elevate in their resume:


  2. Professionalize Them

    The next step is to make the skills sound more professional, and add them to an Areas of Expertise section in the resume. It might look something like this:

    Areas of Expertise Example
  3. Show, Don't Tell

    The best resumes that I see (and write) go one step further. They reference an example of a time when that skill was actually used. And they feature a two-line resume bullet about it.

    Here are a few examples…

    Instead of “Communications Skills," write a bullet like this:

    Leveraged knowledge of impactful communications strategies to revamp internal engagement program for 20,000+ employees.

    Instead of “Exceptional Team Player”

    Partnered with senior staff and colleagues to introduce new programs which increased member engagement by 23%.

    See the difference?

    So what kinds of soft skills do employers want to see?

Abilities like taking initiative, prioritizing projects, and collaborating with colleagues are super important in any role. And they are absolutely skills that employers want. The key is to show employers what results these skills led to.


Andrea Gerson
Post by Andrea Gerson
August 17, 2022
Andrea Gerson is a social worker, career coach and workforce technology founder. Over the past 15 years, she's crafted impactful resumes for over 7,500 clients – many of who have gotten hired at organizations like Google, Apple, and the U.N. She's partnered with dozens of non-profit workforce agencies to lead staff trainings on topics like job search strategies, interview preparation and navigating workplace conflict. Andrea brings a strengths-based, client-centered perspective, and her work is an extension of her commitment to addressing the opportunity gap.