How Should You Put Soft Skills on a Technical Resume?

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How Should You Put Soft Skills on a Technical Resume?

Just saying that you have good soft skills is simply not how it's done. Continue reading to learn the best way to do it.

· Agile Zone ·
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I was in Google Docs collaborating on a resume for a Resume Raiders client the other day when a comment popped up regarding soft skills. The client was a highly accomplished mobile developer with many years of experience, and he wanted to be sure that his "abilities to communicate with clients, present ideas, and collaborate on designs and specifications" were prominently featured on the resume. 

It's incredibly difficult to demonstrate soft skills on a resume, and spending significant amounts of resume space in an attempt to do so is typically ineffective. These attempts often become long lists of self-assessments that come across as entirely trite and cliche, and they end up wasting a large amount of space that may be better dedicated to other things.

Some writers choose to use some kind of key skills type section somewhere in the top third of the resume, which often looks like a tag cloud with phrases like "requirements gathering" and "business analysis," or even more generic, "interpersonal skills" or "excellent communicator." These sections are again somewhat useless self-assessments that I generally refer to as "fluff" when speaking to clients. It's noise, not signal. Don't waste the space.

Telling a reader that you gathered requirements or worked with end-users provides insight into a responsibility, but it doesn't really provide much information about how skilled you may be in those interactions. This is where technologists sometimes will pepper a sentence with words like "adeptly" or "skillfully", which again has no value to the reader.

Don't get me wrong; a brief mention of having responsibility for some human interaction is a tad helpful by showing that you've at least done that task before, but trying to elaborate on these duties is probably not the best way to get your point across.

What's the Better Way?

Want to demonstrate your communication skills?

  • Tell the reader about presentations or training that you have done, whether publicly (at meetups or conferences) or in internal company settings. Audience size and frequency is a relevant metric.

  • If you've been successful in working with distributed and remote teams or team members, that would also be an indication of communication abilities.

  • Mention a time when you influenced management to implement your suggestion or share an anecdote about your negotiation of some vendor contract. 

  • Leading a development team meeting or Scrum? That's worthy of a sentence.

"I have good interpersonal skills" seems like it would be effective, but it isn't. Use these more creative approaches in describing these skills, and try to associate the soft skills with a tangible result.  

agile, career, resumes

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