How To Sell Yourself With Soft Skills


You meet the education and training requirements. You have the requisite certifications. And you just know that you will excel at the job. 

But you can't seem to get to the interview stage. So, what are you missing?

Stand out with soft skills. A professional resume is so much more than a listing of job descriptions, company names, dates, and education. It is your first, and maybe only, chance to sell yourself.

One fundamental requirement of a job-winning resume is integrating keywords that emphasize your skills, particularly your soft skills, seamlessly into your work experience to make even the most basic role relevant to your desired position.

How To Sell Yourself With Soft Skills | Off The Clock Resumes

What are Keywords?

Job postings are a minefield of keywords that depict both hard and soft skills.  Due to a large number of applications, many employers use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to check for those keywords in your resume and rank you against both the job posting and other applicants. Fortunately, most ATS is intuitive and can extract key messages as well as keywords. For a thorough description of how ATS software works check out this excellent article.

Show Off Your True Self With Soft Skills

Hard skills are essentially mandatory training and capabilities specific to each industry. When you learn to operate a particular piece of equipment, master new software or complete a training program you have acquired a new hard skill. It is easy to quantify hard skills on your resume by simply listing the degree, license, or diploma.

While hard skills are necessary to show employers that you are competent, soft skills are the unique attributes that enable you to do the job well. You can be a brilliant theoretical physicist and yet be a lousy science teacher.

These attributes make the difference between an average employee and an outstanding employee. Therefore, integrating soft skills into your resume is vital to emphasize that you are the right fit for the role.

Soft skills are basic personality traits or characteristics. If you are a dependable employee, always showing up early or working late, you have a strong work ethic. It is a habit that you will take with you from job to job.

Constructive soft skills, in conjunction with the required training, can often make up for lack of direct experience when you are changing careers.  Hard skills can be taught, whereas soft skills are inherent in your personality.


How do Soft Skills Relate to Keywords?

Because soft skills are not as tangible as hard skills job postings for service roles, especially those for emergency services, use a variety of keywords to describe each skill.

Top seven soft skills, with examples of relevant keywords:

  1. Communication skills (written, non-verbal, verbal, good listener, negotiation, report writing);

  2. Work ethic (hard worker, reliable, dependable, professional, motivated);

  3. Teamwork (works well with others, helpful, works cooperatively, collaborate);

  4. Interpersonal skills (empathy, friendly, compassionate, accepting, supportive, accommodating, enthusiastic, respectful);

  5. Problem-solving & analytical skills (decision making, creative thinking, inspect, investigate, critical thinking, adaptability, resourcefulness);

  6. Customer service (puts the needs of the client first, customer focused, multi-tasking, attentive);

  7. Leadership (conflict resolution, educating others, mentoring, managing, coaching, supervising).

Different Jobs, Same Soft Skills?

Defining and quantifying soft skills is one of the biggest challenges in creating an outstanding resume. Simply listing skills may meet keyword requirements, but it will not impress a Human Resources manager. Be specific about how you utilize the skill, use action verbs and include hard data to back up your statements whenever possible.

While previous experience in construction or as a fitness instructor seems like a natural fit for emergency services you might think that jobs in lawn care, working on an assembly line, or working as a recycling truck driver are not relevant.

Soft skills like problem-solving, customer service and communication are requirements for virtually all jobs. Showing off how you put them to use in your current position in a way that will translate to your next job may seem like a daunting task.

However, Emergency Resumes,  a professional company whose sole focus is writing resumes for emergency responders, has the expertise to seamlessly integrate your soft skills to match the keywords for emergency services.

7 Ways To Mix In Soft Skills

Most resumes include excellent communication skills. Stand out by demonstrating your abilities by stating that you communicate with your team via radio, audible alerts, and hand signals to verify all is clear and safe to proceed.

Similarly, instead of just listing a strong work ethic quantify the results of your hard work.  Reveal that you rank #1 in production KPI’s 80% of the time among 30 delivery representatives.

Collaborating with 6-person team and additional work crews on site to organize schedules ensuring all work proceeds efficiently is a great way to incorporate the concept of teamwork.

To validate interpersonal skills, affirm that you formulate positive relationships by acting as a sounding board for co-workers, utilizing support techniques, and employing critical stress training.

Depict utilizing analytical & problem-solving skills by showing what you were looking for, why, and the outcome.  Summarize your skills by stating that you assessed site conditions and ensured all workers knew the steps required, how to identify potential hazards, and ways to safely mitigate those hazards.

Customer service is a universally desired trait. It covers everything from serving customers with a smile to going out of your way to ensure all the details are handled. Therefore, revealing that you were the Recipient of “Rookie of the Year Award” for exemplary service is a perfect way to show that you value customer service.

Establish your leadership potential by describing how you rapidly progressed from assistant to lead hand, supervising teams of 2-6 co-workers.

See, Isn’t That Easy?

Honestly, we know that writing resumes kind of sucks. Talking about yourself is hard; even harder to sell yourself. Then you must learn to blend your soft skills into your resume naturally.

Keep in mind, soft skills are only one component of a great resume. It needs to have a clean layout, excellent grammar, spelling, and the right keywords.

So, if you need a hand, reach out to a professional resume company. Remember you only write one resume every few years; they do this for a living.

Denis Caron, Emergency Resumes


Denis has spent the last 18 years in leadership roles both in the military and emergency services. He is now the owner of Emergency Resumes, a resume service dedicated to helping those get into a rewarding career with emergency services.