Soft Skills Are the Resume Secret For Hybrid Roles

Trying to tweak your resume for the job market can be difficult, especially if you haven’t gotten a new role since the pandemic’s beginning. The recruitment landscape looks different now, as hybrid positions are everywhere, and soft skills are becoming just as important as hard skills. Donald Thompson, author of Underestimated: A CEO’s Unlikely Path to Success and co-Founder/CEO of The Diversity Movement, has some tips on integrating soft skills into your hybrid-focused resume.

What are soft skills?

Soft skills were formerly known as “people skills” but can also be referred to as common skills or core skills. Some examples of soft skills are:

  • Emotional intelligence
  • Time management
  • Common sense/problem solving
  • Networking
  • Conflict resolution
  • Leadership
  • Lifelong learning

However, Thompson says that the job market is moving away from referring to “hard” and “soft” skills as a binary in general, as you can’t have one without the other.

“I like to think about whether a person has career-ready competencies or universal competencies,” Thompson says. “As we grow in these areas, it’s important to recognize that these are universal competency areas that all working professionals need to have at the ready. The more that we can cultivate and be coached around some of these, the more successful we are in the workplace.” 

“An employee can’t just focus on technical skills and never utilize the soft skill set or grow their soft skill set,” Thompson adds. “So even someone who is charged with doing a single task – let’s say, data entry – they still need to communicate with their coworkers and their managers if they have questions, understand the higher reason, the purpose of this data, and other strategic points.”

Why do we need soft skills? 

Thompson notes that soft skills are essential because they increase employee retention by creating an environment with friendly, curious, and competent workers. They also maximize learning potential, as those with soft skills can take criticism more effectively and build leadership skills.

Soft skills in the hybrid world

The most common soft skills, or universal competencies, have changed as the hybrid world has evolved. Thompson says that the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) survey on the most desired soft skills for new hires found that cultural competencies and critical thinking are two of the most important features of the hiring landscape.

“Critical thinking is typically the largest gap that employers are identifying,” Thompson adds. “This means that we need more people who can take a bit of knowledge, ask questions, lean in with curiosity, and then apply that knowledge to other situations to think more globally or to connect the dots across different situations.”

Additionally, in the hybrid workplace specifically, employees with go-getter mindsets are vital for a team to function well.

“Some of the soft skills in the hybrid workplace are heightened, such as communication or being a self-starter,” Thompson says. “So these are the abilities a talent manager would want to screen for a hybrid employee. In a hybrid workspace, there is an expectation that you are going to be more autonomous.”

Resume writing in the hybrid era

Thompson notes that resumes for hybrid roles are indeed different than resumes for in-person or remote roles, and you’ve got to thoroughly outline why you’re the best fit for the job.

“When you’re applying for a remote or a hybrid position, you need to be calling attention to your well-developed skill sets in areas that make you a more qualified candidate for remote work.”

Your skill set should indicate that you have a readiness to work, the tools to be able to be productive from home, and the social ability to make work friends from a distance.

 “You need to be able to highlight how autonomous you are and how you can operate outside of an office structure, while also creating teamwork and collaboration in a setting that doesn’t default to those talents just because you’re in an office,” Thompson says.

Should I specify soft skills on my hybrid resume?

Thompson says that the short answer is yes – soft skills are important to mention on your resume if you’re applying for a hybrid role.

 “In today’s workplace, people are never going to be wholly in-person or not,” he says. “So working across teams with different people in many different places is incredibly important. People need to highlight the skills they have as they relate to cultural EQ and showcase the talents they have in building teams, working collaboratively, and being able to make independent decisions that are in the best interest of the organization.” 

As for how you should phrase these skills on a resume, Thompson says you should refrain from listing them outright, as it doesn’t really paint a full picture of who you are. 

“An applicant should be reading the job description and customizing their resume to that job description,” he says. “Most important is to show, not tell. Talent managers want to see examples of skills, not just say that you have these skills. This means providing numbers and examples that demonstrate competency, not just familiarity with buzzwords.”

As you’re describing your past roles, in the area where you put details about your accomplishments, try to find creative ways to phrase your abilities that integrate your soft skill competency.

The takeaway: customize your resume

While you might think that soft skills would get glazed over by resume-scanning software before any talent recruiter could see them, Thompson says it’s still worth your time to cater your resume to a role.

“Typically, the size of the company correlates to whether they’re using an automated system,” he notes. “An automated system looks much different across sectors as well. Some automated systems will screen for certain words, or certain phrases, while some actually send out the full resume to the screening professionals or the HR professional for screening.”

However, whether you’re sending out a resume to a person or an automated system, Thompson concludes that a generic resume looks weaker than one that’s been personalized for a specific role.