Nowadays it's a plus if you have more to offer a potential employer than a degree alone; employers look more and more for evidence of well-rounded individuals with the potential to succeed in their organisation - this is where skills come in.
Do you think you didn’t develop enough extra skills during your study to impress a potential employer with? Good news! As a student, there are lots of skills you probably already own without being aware. Getting a degree not only provides you with the technical know-how for your dream job, it also teaches you the necessary soft skills to thrive in the workplace. It is definitely a good idea to highlight these during your next job- or internship application!
Soft skills are personal qualities that help you succeed whatever task you turn to, whether that’s the ability to work well in a team or adapt to changes in your environment. Soft skills are important to the success of almost all employers. After all, nearly every job requires employees to engage with others in some way.
Another reason hiring managers and employers look for applicants with soft skills, is because you they are ‘transferable’. They can be used regardless of the job you work at. This makes job candidates with soft skills very adaptable employees. Also, because soft skills are acquired over time - as opposed to hard skills acquired in a short time during a class or training program - people with soft skills are often seen as having unique and broad backgrounds that can diversify a company and help it run more efficiently. Did you know that researchers believe soft skills account for more than half of performance in many jobs? They are crucial in today’s demanding workplace.
Prepare your interview by following these three steps.
First step: make a list of your soft skills
Make a list of the soft skills you have obtained that are relevant to the job you want. For example, look at a list of soft skills, and circle the ones that you have. There are some useful websites where you can find relevant soft skill competences for career options after your specific degree. To have an idea take a look at these websites: the Dutch Carrieretijger and the English Prospects.
Second step: compare with job requirements
Then compare your list of soft skills with the job requirements. Which of these soft skills are mentioned? Which of these do you think would be most useful in this job? Make a list of three to five soft skills you have that are also needed for the job. Then, include some of these in your CV. You can add them to a ‘skills’ section or you can use keywords throughout your CV, mentioning them in places such as your CV summary and in descriptions of your duties for each job in your work history. You can also mention these soft skills in your cover letter. Pick one or two soft skills you have that appear to be the most important for the job. In your cover letter, provide evidence that shows you have those particular skills.
Third step: highlight with examples
No interviewer is going to ask you if you have a soft skill; they're going to ask how you have implemented that skill in or outside the workplace. You need to have concrete examples and be ready to talk about times you have displayed some of these skills in the past. You can also try to demonstrate your soft skills during the interview. For example by being friendly, approachable and paying attention during the interview, you show your ability to communicate well with others.
Keep in mind that the bottom line of highlighting your soft kills during the job application process is painting a picture of a well-rounded, skilled future employee who is ready to work and contribute to the company.
Good luck impressing your potential employer with your soft skills during the next job application!