When looking at a job description, it’s easy to have tunnel vision. Often, the hard skills jump out and steal our focus. While there’s value in leveraging your hard skills during a job search, there’s just as much value to be found with soft skills.
Our soft skills make us great team additions, help build company cultures, and are the most important part of who we are as professionals. At Zeit, we specialize in the career pivot space and we know just how important soft skills are. Which is why we recently spoke with a couple of talent acquisition professionals to answer major questions about how to bring your soft skills to life in the interview process. We connected with Christa Dias (Sr. HR Coordinator/Specialist at Twitter), Chanel Carlos (Direct Recruiter at Deutsche Bank), and Jonathan Gourdet (Tech Sourcer at Meta).
Let’s take a closer look at the takeaways from this conversation where we look at what soft skills are and the importance of demonstrating them in a job interview.
Soft skills (sometimes called common skills or core skills) are types of skills that are desirable in a wide variety of professions and are easily transferable. Some common examples of soft skills include:
Jonathan explained that soft skills aren’t tangible. “Those are things that are kind of our core values that are very transferable, they can be taken from job to job to job,” Jonathan explained. A soft skill that is really important to Jonathan, is active listening. He notes that while many people think that being a good public speaker is an important skill, not as many realize that active listening is just as important. He believes that taking a step back, being able to listen to different ideas, being open minded, and taking in and retaining that information so you can bring it back to your team is invaluable.
Of course, soft skills have a limit to how far they can transfer (so do hard skills). Jonathan noted that, “If you're in a support role, don't apply for a director position. It's not going to make sense.”
Instead, he advises focusing on what value you can add to the company with your soft skills on top of your hard skills. When it comes to hiring, Jonathan believes that hard skills are the baseline, but how you will stand out amongst a sea of applicants with similar hard skills, is by demonstrating your soft skills.
“Even if you aren't managing people, how did you demonstrate leadership? How did you demonstrate problem solving? How did you manage your time in a certain situation? How did you manage a conflict between a co-worker? Those are the things that are going to separate yourself from being a good candidate and being a great candidate.”
Christa agrees with this assessment, “I'll say, every time we do go through hiring for our team, the soft skills beat out the person who has more experience, because one person is just way more eager and excited,” Christa shared, “And we can tell that they can manage our process and they'll be able to deal with the numbers that we have to put up each month…that definitely beats out having the hard skills.”
To make the most of the soft skills you have, learn more about the company’s culture and values before you attend a job interview.
Christa explained that because Twitter is a company that is really transparent, you can easily learn more about their culture by doing some quick online research. “I think it looks great,” Christa said, “I think it looks like you know, you've done your research.” Be careful here, sincerity is key.
“I don't want to hear just verbatim what we have on our diversity page.” Christa urges job searchers to share what their values mean to them and how they pertain to their hopes, dreams, and goals for their life at the company. Christa also recommends making it clear how your soft skills relate to these values.
On the flip side, use the interview process to pick up on the soft skills of your potential future colleagues, “That recruiting process is a reflection of what your everyday life is going to be like,” Christa noted, “If you're not connected with someone who has the patience to work through having a conversation with you, even if it's not super clear, then you're probably like that's not a place that personally I would want to work at.”
For more insider insight into why soft skills matter and how to use them during a job interview to stand out, you can check out the recording of this event!