Top 10 Soft Skills Employers Love

Frank headshot

Frank Hackett

Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW)

Frank Hackett is a professional resume writer and career consultant with over eight years of experience. As the lead editor at a boutique career consulting firm, Frank developed an innovative approach to resume writing that empowers job seekers to tell their professional stories. His approach involves creating accomplishment-driven documents that balance keyword optimization with personal branding. Frank is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) with the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches (PAWRCC).

Employers value candidates who have a versatile background and a balanced array of both hard and soft skills. Although it’s important to highlight the technical aspects of your career, it’s good to also show hiring managers you have the ability to communicate effectively with clients and team members in fast-paced business environments. In this guide, we’ll provide you with a list of soft skills you can incorporate to enhance your job application and land your next interview opportunity.

What Is a Soft Skill?

In the broadest sense, soft skills usually encapsulate a candidate’s interpersonal, leadership, and communication abilities. These are key characteristics to incorporate into your document to showcase both your emotional intelligence and people management skills. It’s important to understand that employers want to see that you have the technical competencies to succeed in the role. But they also want to determine that you’re the right fit for the organization’s work culture. Providing a balance of hard and soft skills on your resume will showcase your versatility as a professional during the initial application phase and make a positive impression on the hiring manager.

Top 10 Soft Skills Employers Love

Now that you understand what a soft skill is, we’ll examine a list of 10 popular skills that employers highly value in their candidates. Keep in mind that while you’re likely to encounter many of these terms during your job search, you’ll still need to tailor your content towards specific job opportunities. These should be used as a general guide, rather than a mandatory list of skill sets. The most significant aspect of the resume building process is creating a document that truly resonates with the individual organizations you’re applying to. The top 10 soft skills that catch the attention of employers are:

  • Adaptability
  • Change Management
  • Creativity
  • Cross-functional Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Emotional Intelligence
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Leadership
  • People Management
  • Relationship-building

1. Communication and interpersonal skills

To work effectively in team-based environments, you need to be able to communicate effectively with coworkers and clients on a daily basis. Highlighting your interpersonal strengths can be a helpful tool to show hiring managers that you have the emotional intelligence to build productive working relationships and positively succeed in the position. Here are some additional skills to make your communication skills stand out on your resume:

  • Client Relations
  • Conflict Management
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Creative Thinking
  • Communication
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Negotiation
  • Relationship-building
  • Written Communication

2. Team leadership and cross-functional collaboration

Although the term “cross-functional” can be interpreted as a hard skill, the expression speaks primarily to one’s personal character traits and leadership background. This is one of the most important terms to include on contemporary resumes. Hiring managers are constantly looking for candidates who excel in collaborating with various types of teams and departments to achieve organizational objectives. Below are some additional soft skills to flesh out your leadership experience on your document:

  • Coaching
  • Cross-functional Collaboration
  • Employee Engagement
  • Employee Relations
  • Leadership
  • Mentorship
  • Organizational Development
  • Team Building
  • Team Management
  • People Management

3. Diversity, equity, and inclusion

Emphasizing your experience in driving DEI within the workplace will have a positive impact on both a professional and personal level. This is a topic that has been overlooked for far too long. Hiring managers covet candidates who are truly committed to creating inclusive work cultures and safe environments for team members across all backgrounds, genders, and ethnicities. Below is a list of skills to include that spotlight your background in facilitating diversity and inclusion:

  • Advocacy
  • Allyship
  • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Cultural Awareness
  • Cultural Sensitivity
  • DEI
  • Empathy
  • Equity
  • Inclusion Strategy
  • Workplace Inclusion

How to List Soft Skills on Your Resume

There are various ways to incorporate soft skills into your resume beyond simply creating a skills section at the bottom. Showcasing examples of your interpersonal skills in your bullet points and profile profile section will help hiring managers to see specific instances of you putting these skills into practice. Below, are some examples to help highlight key aspects of your professional experience, including soft skills:

1. Feature soft skills in your professional profile

When building out your professional profile, incorporate four specializations into your opening sentence that align with the job description. Depending on your industry, consider providing a mix of both hard and soft skills. In the example below, the candidate is pursuing a human resources management position. In addition to showing their industry expertise, they also use this opportunity to promote their organizational leadership and staff development skills, sending a strong message to hiring managers that they’re the right fit for the company’s work culture.

Profile

A Human Resources Manager with 10+ years of experience specializing in conflict resolution, organizational development, employee relations, and DEI.

A strong history of building human resources departments from the ground up providing employee resources to support the growth of enterprise organizations.

2. Showcase soft skills in your bullet points

As you illustrate your career achievements, provide insights into individual accomplishments that shine light on your character traits and communication skills. In the example below, the candidate works as a nurse manager within the healthcare industry. Although their knowledge of the medical field is important to demonstrate, this job seeker also needs to showcase they can interface effectively with diverse team members and patient populations. Highlighting their focus on managing personnel and providing emotional support to their nursing teams during COVID-19 shows professionalism much more than listing “leadership” or “team management” in a vacuum.

  • Create training programs on infection prevention and COVID-19 safety protocols in response to the global pandemic
  • Lead efforts to provide mental health resources and emotional support to medical teams dealing with mental and emotional trauma
  • Spearhead initiatives to drive the professional development of registered nurses through leadership training seminars and provide ongoing coaching and mentorship

3. Create a customized skills section for each job application

Although listing skills on your resume won’t show hiring managers how you used them in daily workflows, it’s still important to feature this section. Hiring managers often have limited bandwidth to read through every resume they receive in-depth. Incorporating key soft skills here will maximize their visibility if the reader is only doing a fast preliminary scan. In the example below, the job seeker’s strong mix of hard and soft skills presents them as a dynamic professional with a diverse background.

Key Skills

  • Cross-functional Collaboration
  • Project Management
  • Relationship-building
  • Employee Engagement 
  • Emotional Intelligence 
  • Program Management

Avoid Using Generic Soft Skills on Your Resume

Soft skills often run the risk of coming off as an empty platitude or generic character trait when used incorrectly. For example, problem-solving is commonly listed on resumes. But most employers are already expecting you to have this, and listing this skill does not differentiate you from the field of applicants. Although you want to create a balanced mix of skills on the resume, you don’t want to include soft skills simply for the sake of having them. The only time you should incorporate these terms into your resume is if they’re repeated multiple times throughout the job posting, a strong indicator that this is a keyword in the Applicant Tracking System (ATS). Below, we’ll review some examples of generic soft skills to generally avoid in your document.

  • Confident
  • Dependable
  • Diligent
  • Fast Learner
  • Positivity
  • Problem-solving
  • Team Player
  • Hardworking
  • Reliable
  • Self-motivated

When To Include Soft Skills on Your Resume

Although you don’t want to compromise the quality of your document by oversaturating it with soft skills, make a concerted effort to always include some of these character traits on your resume. This provides hiring managers with a clearer picture of who you are as a professional. The most vital aspect of the resume building process is to show organizations that you’re the most qualified candidate for the position. While your hard skills should almost always take priority, providing these additional details can complement your technical competencies and show prospective employers you’re a well-rounded professional who can fit well into any team environment.