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I have been told a number of times that it is important to list some soft skills on your resume especially since, as a software developer, it is really easy to fill all the space with hard skills. While I do have soft skills I think I could list, I always feel kind of silly listing thing like 'strong leadership' because it feels like anyone can say that and everybody does!

Is it as important a people have been telling me to list 'soft skills'? If so is there any way to list them to make them seem legitimate?

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I think it is good practice to list some soft skills on your resume. I am a software developer / computer scientist and I make sure that about 25% of the skills bullet pointed on my CV are soft skills. No job is purely technical, you will have to communicate with people, so soft skills are important. You may have to mentor and lead people, so leadership skills are important. You may work on your own initiative for much of the time, so time management and project management skills are valuable. Problem solving skills are particularly relevant to software development.

You are correct that "anyone can say that" and so you should always be prepared to back up everything you put on your resume. If you quote soft skills, you must be able to talk about scenarios (e.g. specific projects) where you have demonstrated those skills. So, don't put skills on there which you don't have!

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I've always found it best to include soft skills with an example.

Strong leadership

List here why you think you have 'strong leadership'. Have you lead a team? Do you recall a specific instance where there was a difficult situation for you to navigate? How about detailing a project where your leadership led to a positive outcome. If you put it on there, you have to be willing to demonstrate that you you actually have this quality.

Communication Skills

Is another popular one. Personally, I was appointed the role of communicating technical bulletins that affected the business because I translate business to IS very well. Maybe you have something like that you can put on there.

I think you always have to be thinking about 'What is going to make them believe I have these attributes?' because as you stated, everyone puts those on a resume.

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In the resume workshops I've been to, they always say to be specific about your soft skills, and to give concrete examples of you performing these skills. The example they gave (for a head waitress job) was "can stand for long periods of time;" instead, one should write "had several shifts at X where I stood for eight consecutive hours." Just listing a skill is something anyone can do, and since "strong leadership" is impossible to quantify or double-check in itself, anyone can write things like that. If you're able to get more specific, do so.

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As a software development manager, I will say that I would take a list of "soft skills" on a resume with a grain of salt. It's far better to list your experiences and how you demonstrated the soft skills using specific achievements and/or responsibilities you had. Also, playing to your soft skills is possibly better addressed in the "Objective" (or whatever intro section you have at the top), or in the cover letter. Say what you want to be doing, why, and why your soft skills are important for that roll there.

Keep in mind, the goal of the resume is just to get you an interview. That's where you'll show your soft skills.

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This answer is based - although I am a software developer - on my experiences in looking at other people's resumes.

Technical CVs tend to be highly technical, and remarkably unreadable to the average person. I think this is because, as technical people, we often just don't understand that the general person doesn't have a clue what we do.

Soft skills, then, while viewed in the technical theater as "unverifiable" are something that a non-technical audience, be it a recruiter or an HR member, can identify and relate to.

This will help you a lot when it comes to job hunting.

More interestingly, putting something like "Likes", and populating it with things that you actually like - say, swimming or travelling or what have you - will also make you a relatable person.

This will, again, improve the odds of you being called in for an interview, all other things be equal.

As to "verifiable leadership" - why not start a local meetup group, or volunteer mentoring children from disadvantaged backgrounds? That way, you can both improve your leadership skills and provide an identifiable and verifiable expression of said soft skill.

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