Education and training will help you require the ‘hard’ or ‘specific’ skills for your CV and career, but what is a soft skill and why are they so important? A soft skill relates to a more generic personal trait, and without them you would be unable to put your hard skills into good use. Take communication for instance – this is without doubt the most common and important soft skill to master for any business.

There are many different forms of communication which are used within the workplace on a daily basis, from interaction between customers via phone, email and even face to face. But if you lack the ability to perform well in just one of these forms of communication, your entire career could be in jeopardy.

When an employer reviews a CV they want to be able to see that the important soft skills are present. In addition to the relevant hard skills and qualifications, this final ingredient is usually the tipping point to success.

Here are the top 5 soft skills for your CV.

1. Intrinsic motivation

Self motivation is of course very important, and this is something you should show in abundance on your CV. The employer wants to recognise that your efforts are all in the name of career success, and you don’t have to be pushed to achieve great results. Your job satisfaction is high, and as such you find it easy to blow your targets out of the water.

There are a number of people who turn up to work and are happy to do exactly what’s required – nothing more and nothing less. A consistent wage is all they are focused upon, which isn’t to say this is always a bad idea for an employer – but it would be if your CV represented this. So assuming you are aiming to achieve more than a consistent wage, your CV needs to represent someone who is a high achiever and has the drive to succeed and progress up the ranks.

So how can you show that you are a self-motivated professional?

The more relevant achievements and results you can include in your CV, the more likely it is that the employer will realise you are intrinsically motivated. You are clearly proud of what you’ve accomplished so far, and these achievements will make it very clear to the employer that you look to succeed no matter what you do.

Idea generation is also a great way to demonstrate your motivation levels. Provide examples of an idea that you implemented and what the positive outcome was. An employer would always prefer to hire someone that takes it upon themselves to improve things within the workplace. An employee with this soft skill is an asset and often the driving force behind the company’s success.

2. Flexibility and adaptability

There may come a time in your career when something changes and it tests your resolve. It could be a request to move to a different department or even location, or it could be a change in tasks and responsibilities. But no matter what is thrown at you it’s important you always roll with the punches.

A flexible worker that can adapt to any situation is both valuable and quite rare. These are the types of people that progress to management quite quickly because they recognise and appreciate the bigger picture and the needs of the company. Whilst it’s important not to be pushed around and simply do everything that’s asked of you, it is however important not to dig your heels in and be stubborn about change.

Your CV can easily demonstrate your flexibility by highlighting your diversity within a company and your desire to help the business grow. This could be through your career progression, promotions, or your willingness to help others.

3. Attention to detail

Instantly when your CV is read by the hiring manager your accuracy and attention to detail will be put to the test. Even just a small error will instantly throw doubt over this and will likely lead to rejection – no matter how qualified you are for the role.

Your entire application has to be completely free of any spelling or grammatical errors, but it doesn’t just stop there. The format and overall presentation of your CV needs to be absolutely perfect. The margins, spacing between sections, font style and size – are all in need of some attention.

Check, double check, and triple check that everything lines up neatly and sits well on the page. Your CV should be very easy to navigate and have clear headings and subheadings. The employer should be able to quickly find what they need without having to read every single word.

Tailoring your CV to the role and the company will also demonstrate a different kind of attention to detail. If you go out of your way to write an application that is completely customised for the role and also pays close attention to the needs of the company, the employer will recognise your efforts. This level of detail will help your application stand out and put you in a good position for an interview.

4. Teamwork

A manager of a team is always concerned with how everyone interacts with each other. Arguments and disagreements between just two colleagues can upset the entire balance, and with larger teams it can become a huge problem if not dealt with swiftly. But the manager shouldn’t have to constantly be putting out internal fires, and it’s important that you make it clear how well you work as part of a team.

To demonstrate your success when working as part of a team you could include successful projects on your CV. Explain what the project was, what you were responsible for, and what the team achieved. Try to avoid making it all about you and how it was mainly your efforts that got the job done. This shows a level of arrogance and isn’t what an employer is looking for.

If the role you’re applying for relies heavily on your ability to work well within a team, then this should be a huge part of your CV. This soft skill is clearly something you should focus upon and help the hiring manager see that you have no problems at all. The more teamworking examples you provide on your application, the more likely the employer is to request an interview.

5. Role specific

Although we are able to pick out some of the most important soft skills required for any job, you should always focus upon the most relevant aspects. Not every role requires a high level of teamworking abilities or verbal communication skills. Some careers require a high level of problem solving or organisational skills. If you’re applying for a management or supervisory position, then leadership qualities must be demonstrated on your CV.

Before you write your CV and apply you should fully research the company and take note of all the requirements from the job advert. Having a great understanding of how the business functions and what they require for the role will help you to write a far better CV. Not only can you then provide all the relevant skills, qualifications and experience, you can also provide relevant examples of your soft skills.

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