When employers evaluate potential employees they look at two different skills sets – the applicant’s hard skills and the applicant’s soft skills. The hard skills you possess are skills you’ve acquired through education and experience, skills like your ability to operate a machine or a computer, for example. The second set of skills employers look at is your soft skills.
Soft skills include skills like how well you communicate with others or how well you manage your time. They are generally considered more subjective but are equally, if not more important, than the hard skills you have.
Every time you communicate with a potential employer whether it’s through your cover letter, resume, during the interview, or in your follow up, you are revealing some of your soft skills. But which ones help you stand out from other applicants?
The Top Five Soft Skills
In a recent survey of 115 Express franchises across the nation, Express found that the top five most important soft skills employers look for are:
For the second year in a row, dependability was considered the most important soft skill to have. Employers need to put a lot of trust in their employees, so they need people they can count on no matter what. You can teach people hard skills, but soft skills like dependability have more to do with who you are (your character) than what you know.
Demonstrating Your Dependability to Potential Employers
If dependability is the top soft skill employers are looking for, then it’s important to make sure you exhibit your reliability during the application and interview process. Here are some ways to do just that:
1. Update Your Resume and Cover Letter
Because resumes and cover letters are an important part of getting an interview it’s very important to ensure your resume illustrates your dependability as much as possible. Employers will look for signs of your dependability like the time spent at each job and the projects you were tasked with. You can emphasize your dependability in your resume and cover letter by using words like consistent, diligent, reliable, persistent, and improved.
2. Give Examples During Your Interview
If you go on to an interview, be sure to have some examples prepared of times that you went above and beyond the call of duty at work. Whether you helped a coworker out or solved a problem for the company, think of times when your past employers relied on you and be prepared to share those examples in your interview.
It’s also important to remember that dependability isn’t just about what you do in difficult or big situations. It’s about what you do in the everyday, small things that matters most, like showing up to work early every day. With that in mind, remember that it’s so important to show up to your interview on time because that too will be a demonstration of your dependability to an employer.
If an employer asks you when you’d be available to work and you’re currently employed at another company, be sure to let them know that out of respect, you want to give your current company the standard two week notice. They would want the same courtesy shown to them if the tables were turned, so this is just another way you can demonstrate your reliability.
If they ask you not to share information about their interview process for privacy or security reasons, as tempting as it may be to talk about it with your friends and family, be sure to respect their wishes and keep it to yourself. You never know how it could get back to someone if you’re not careful. The more trustworthy you are in the small things, the more trustworthy you will be in the big things.
3. Your Follow Up
After the interview, if you were assigned a task or project to submit as an example of your work, be sure to complete it as soon as possible and get it back to the perspective employer on time. This is an important opportunity to display your hard and soft skills at the same time.