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Written by Anna MuckermanAnna Muckerman

50+ Soft skills for CVs

24 min read
50+ Soft skills for CVs
Ever spent hours crafting the perfect CV, only to hear crickets from potential employers? It might not be your qualifications that are lacking; it could be your soft skills that aren't shining through. We’ll explore the most important soft skills and how to make them stand out on your application.

What are soft skills?

Think of soft skills as the secret sauce that makes a workplace run smoothly. They're not about the technical know-how (like coding or accounting) but rather the personal qualities that help you get on well with others and tackle everyday challenges. It's the rapport you build with colleagues, how you listen to different opinions, and how you stay calm under pressure.

Soft skills include being reliable, showing initiative, and bouncing back from setbacks. They're the skills that make you a valuable member of any team, whether you're working in a restaurant, a tech company, or anywhere in between.

What’s the difference between hard skills and soft skills?

Hard skills are the technical knowledge and abilities you gain through education, training, and experience. Think of them as the tools in your toolbox: programming languages, financial analysis, project management skills, or even the perfect pint-pulling technique. These skills are often specific to a particular job or industry and can be measured and assessed through exams, certifications, or practical demonstrations.

Soft skills, on the other hand, are the personal attributes that enable you to interact effectively with others and navigate the complexities of the workplace. They're the qualities that make you a good listener, a collaborative team player, a creative problem-solver, or a calm and collected leader. These skills are often less tangible than hard skills, but they are no less important, especially in a culture that values collaboration and communication.

Think of a successful sports team: each player has their own unique talents and abilities (their "hard" skills). But it's their teamwork, communication, and shared determination (their "soft" skills) that ultimately lead them to victory. 

In the same way, a workplace thrives when individuals with diverse hard skills come together and leverage their collective soft skills to achieve common goals.

Do

Tailor your soft skills to the job description. Identify the most relevant skills and outline these skills on your CV.

Don't

Use cliché phrases like "team player" or "people person" without providing specific examples to back them up.

What soft skills should I put on my CV?

Highlighting relevant soft skills on your CV can significantly enhance your appeal to potential employers. These skills, encompassing interpersonal abilities and personality traits, often prove crucial for success in various roles. 

Prioritise skills that align with the specific job description. For instance, if applying for a sales assistant position, emphasise communication, empathy, and problem-solving abilities. Project management roles call for showcasing your leadership, organisation, and time management prowess. Adaptability and teamwork are universally valued assets, so consider incorporating them if they genuinely reflect your strengths.

Remember, merely listing soft skills isn't sufficient; provide concrete examples that illustrate your practical application. Did you successfully mediate a conflict between team members? Did you efficiently manage your time to meet a tight deadline? These specific instances lend credibility to your claims and demonstrate the tangible value you bring to the table. 

By thoughtfully incorporating relevant soft skills and supporting them with concrete examples, you can craft a compelling CV that sets you apart from other candidates.

Expert tip

To truly help your soft skills shine on your CV, don't just list them as generic buzzwords. Instead, integrate them strategically throughout your document to create a cohesive narrative that showcases your value as a potential employee. 

For example, in your personal statement, highlight two to three key soft skills most relevant to the desired position, framing them as core strengths that drive your success. 

Then, weave these skills into your work experience descriptions, using specific examples and quantifiable accomplishments to demonstrate their impact. 

Where do soft skills go on a CV?

Once you've identified the key soft skills, weave them into your CV to showcase your strengths and accomplishments. In your work experience section, use specific examples to illustrate how you've applied these skills in previous roles. 

For instance, instead of simply stating "excellent communication skills," you could describe a situation where you successfully negotiated a contract or resolved a conflict with a colleague. Quantify your achievements whenever possible to demonstrate the impact of your soft skills.

In addition to your work experience, you can also showcase your soft skills in your education and qualifications section. If you've taken courses or participated in extracurricular activities or hobbies and interests that have honed your communication, leadership, or teamwork abilities, mention them briefly. 

You can also use your personal statement to highlight key soft skills and demonstrate your passion for personal and professional development.

Statistical insight

Did you know Ireland has the highest proportion of remote workers in the European Union? According to the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland, 36% of employees reported working from home at least occasionally in 2022. 

The top 10 soft skills for CVs with examples

Not sure which soft skills to highlight on your CV? Here's a list of the top 10 in-demand skills you can tailor to your experience: adaptability, communication, creativity, emotional intelligence, leadership, problem-solving, resilience, teamwork, time management and work ethic. 

Let’s explore these skills a little deeper:  

Adaptability

Adaptability is a highly sought-after soft skill, as it demonstrates your ability to embrace change, whether it's adapting to new company policies, shifting project priorities, or adopting innovative technologies.

Employers value individuals who can quickly learn new skills and systems, remain calm under pressure, and find creative solutions to unexpected challenges. If you're someone who thrives in dynamic environments, be sure to highlight your adaptability on your CV. 

For example, you could mention how you quickly learned a new software program to streamline a process or how you successfully managed a project despite unexpected setbacks. Consider also mentioning skills like flexibility, open-mindedness, resilience, and a proven willingness to take on new responsibilities and challenges.

Example

Successfully led a team through a major software transition, training colleagues on new systems and processes, resulting in a 20% increase in productivity within three months.

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Example

Successfully transitioned to a new role within the organisation, quickly learning new responsibilities and demonstrating a strong ability to adapt to different working environments.

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Communication

Effective communication encompasses not only the ability to articulate one's thoughts, ideas, and opinions clearly but also the capacity to actively listen and understand others' perspectives. Strong communication skills facilitate collaboration, foster trust, and prevent misunderstandings. 

If you're an adept communicator, emphasise this strength on your CV. Consider highlighting related skills such as persuasive negotiation, engaging presentations, or adept conflict resolution, showcasing your ability to navigate complex interpersonal dynamics and achieve positive outcomes.

Example

Developed and delivered a persuasive presentation to senior management, securing a €50,000 budget increase for a key marketing campaign that exceeded ROI targets by 15%.

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Example

Successfully presented complex project findings to senior management, tailoring the delivery to their specific interests and securing buy-in for further investment.

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Creativity

Creativity is a valuable asset in the workplace, especially as companies seek innovative solutions and fresh perspectives. Showcasing your ability to think outside the box and generate original ideas can help set you apart from other candidates. 

Demonstrating creativity could involve developing unique marketing campaigns, designing user-friendly interfaces, or finding unconventional solutions to complex problems. When highlighting creativity on your CV, consider mentioning relevant skills like brainstorming, ideation, innovation, or even problem-solving. 

For example, you could mention how you spearheaded a brainstorming session that led to a successful product launch or how you devised an innovative solution to a persistent customer service issue. 

Example

Developed and implemented a novel customer engagement strategy that increased social media followers by 35% and boosted website traffic by 20% within six months.

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Example

Developed an innovative marketing campaign that increased brand awareness by 20% and drove a 15% increase in customer engagement.

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Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence (EI) is increasingly recognised as a crucial skill in the workplace. It encompasses the ability to recognise, understand, and manage your own emotions, as well as empathise with and effectively navigate the emotions of others. 

High emotional intelligence fosters strong relationships, improves communication, and enhances teamwork. If you possess strong emotional intelligence, be sure to showcase it on your CV. 

Highlight related skills such as self-awareness, empathy, active listening and conflict resolution. For example, you could mention how you mediated a dispute between colleagues, provided important constructive feedback to a team member, or created a positive and inclusive work environment.

Example

Successfully mediated a conflict between two team members, facilitating open communication and understanding, resulting in a swift resolution and improved team collaboration on a critical project.

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Example

Navigated a sensitive conversation with a colleague experiencing personal difficulties, offering a supportive and understanding environment while maintaining professional boundaries.

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Leadership skills

Leadership isn't confined to managerial positions; it's a mindset and skill set that transcends titles. Demonstrating initiative, taking ownership of your work, and inspiring others are highly valued traits in any role. 

Even if you're not leading a team, showcasing your leadership potential can make you a standout candidate. This might involve proactively identifying opportunities for improvement, taking charge of projects, or guiding and motivating colleagues. 

When highlighting leadership on your CV, consider mentioning related skills like delegation, decision-making, conflict resolution, strategic planning, motivation, or mentoring. 

Example

Led a cross-functional team to streamline the onboarding process for new hires, reducing onboarding time by 40% and improving new hire satisfaction by 25%.

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Example

Stepped up to lead a team through a challenging project with a tight deadline, effectively delegating tasks, motivating team members, and ensuring successful completion ahead of schedule.

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Problem-solving skills

In today's fast-paced and ever-changing business landscape, problem-solving is not just an asset; it's a necessity. Companies increasingly seek individuals who can think critically, analyse complex situations, and devise innovative solutions to overcome challenges. 

If you possess a knack for unravelling problems and finding creative solutions, highlighting your problem-solving prowess on your CV is essential. Emphasise related skills like analytical thinking, data analysis, root cause analysis, troubleshooting, risk assessment, or creative problem-solving.

For instance, you could mention how you identified a bottleneck in a production process and implemented a solution that increased efficiency or how you successfully navigated a complex client issue through careful analysis and negotiation.

Example

Successfully troubleshooted and resolved a critical software glitch that was impacting production, minimising downtime by 80% and saving the company an estimated €10,000 in potential losses.

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Example

Identified a recurring error in a complex data set, developed a script to automate error correction, and implemented a preventative measure to avoid future issues.

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Resilience

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from setbacks, maintain a positive attitude in the face of adversity, and learn from challenges to emerge stronger. 

Demonstrating resilience on your CV showcases your ability to handle pressure, adapt to change, and persevere in the face of obstacles. You can highlight related skills such as stress management, adaptability, optimism, perseverance, problem-solving, and a growth mindset.

For example, you could mention how you successfully led a team through a period of significant change or how you overcame a major obstacle to achieve a key project goal.

Example

Successfully managed a high-pressure client project, overcoming unexpected obstacles and tight deadlines to deliver exceptional results that exceeded client expectations and secured a contract renewal.

Copied!
Example

Successfully navigated a major software transition, quickly learning the new system and training colleagues to minimise disruption to workflow.

Copied!

Teamwork 

Teamwork is the backbone of most successful organisations, and employers highly value individuals who can collaborate effectively. Being a team player involves more than just working alongside colleagues; it means actively listening to diverse perspectives, respecting different opinions, and finding common ground to achieve shared goals. 

It also entails fostering a positive and supportive team environment where everyone feels valued and heard. If you excel at teamwork, highlight this strength on your CV. Showcase your ability to collaborate, communicate openly, and contribute to a team's success. 

Example

Collaborated with a cross-functional team of 10 to successfully launch a new product line, coordinating tasks, resolving conflicts, and ensuring timely delivery, resulting in a 20% increase in sales within the first quarter.

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Example

Worked with team members to develop a new drink preparation system, reducing order fulfilment time by 10% and improving overall efficiency.

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Time management

Being proficient in time management involves more than just meeting deadlines; it means strategically planning your workload, prioritising tasks based on their urgency and importance, and allocating your time efficiently. 

It also entails utilising effective organisational tools and techniques to streamline processes, avoid unnecessary delays, and ensure that projects are completed on schedule and within budget. If you excel at time management, highlight this key strength on your CV. 

Other related skills include organising, prioritising, and delivering results within allocated timeframes.

Example

Demonstrated ability to adapt to changing priorities and maintain productivity under pressure, ensuring projects are completed on time and within budget.

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Example

Consistently managed high-volume customer orders during peak hours, prioritising tasks and adjusting workflow to ensure prompt service and minimal wait times.

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Work ethic

A strong work ethic goes beyond simply fulfilling job requirements; it involves consistently exceeding expectations, taking initiative, and maintaining a positive attitude even in challenging situations. Individuals with a strong work ethic are self-motivated and proactive and always strive to produce high-quality work. 

They take pride in their contributions, demonstrate a willingness to go the extra mile, and are committed to continuous learning and improvement. If you possess a strong work ethic, be sure to highlight this valuable asset on your CV. 

Other related skills include dedication, reliability, and commitment to achieving outstanding results.

Example

Took initiative to streamline department processes, resulting in a 15% reduction in project completion times.

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Example

Volunteered to take on additional cleaning duties and restocking tasks during slower periods, ensuring a consistently clean and well-maintained workspace.

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Expert tip

To further showcase your work ethic in your CV, consider quantifying your achievements whenever possible. For example, instead of simply stating that you "streamlined processes," specify the percentage of time or resources saved as a result of your initiative. This adds concrete evidence to your claims and demonstrates the tangible impact of your strong work ethic.

The importance of soft skills

Ultimately, soft skills are not only valuable in personal interactions but also critical for professional success. Studies have consistently demonstrated that individuals with strong soft skills tend to experience higher levels of job engagement, motivation, and overall satisfaction in their careers. 

This heightened engagement translates into tangible benefits, as these individuals are more likely to be promoted, command higher salaries, and ultimately emerge as recognised leaders within their respective fields.

Soft skills have become increasingly important in today's rapidly evolving workplace, where technical skills can be quickly acquired and easily replicated. They offer a distinct competitive advantage that sets individuals apart from their peers and ensures their continued relevance and value in the job market. 

By cultivating and honing their soft skills, professionals can unlock their full potential, foster meaningful connections, and achieve lasting success in their chosen careers.

Expert tip

Use action verbs: Start your bullet points with strong action verbs that showcase your transferable skills. For example, instead of saying "Good leadership skills," you could say "Managed a team of 50 to deliver projects on time and within budget." This not only demonstrates your leadership abilities but also provides quantifiable evidence of your success. 

Similarly, instead of mentioning "Excellent communication skills," you could highlight a specific instance where you "Facilitated clear communication between cross-functional teams, resolving conflicts and ensuring project alignment." This approach adds depth and credibility to your claims, making your resume stand out from the competition. 

Remember, action verbs paint a vivid picture of your capabilities, allowing potential employers to envision the value you can bring to their organisation.

Key Takeaways

Before you begin drafting your CV, don’t forget the following essential tips:

  1. Soft skills are essential: They complement technical expertise and hard skills and are highly valued by employers across various industries.
  2. Highlight relevant skills: Tailor your CV to showcase soft skills that align with the specific job requirements.
  3. Provide concrete examples: Demonstrate the practical application of your soft skills through specific instances and quantifiable achievements.
  4. Showcase your value: Highlight how your soft skills have positively impacted previous roles and how they can benefit potential employers.

Remember, a well-crafted CV emphasising your soft skills can set you apart and increase your chances of landing your dream job.

Ready to make your soft skills shine and land your dream job? Our online CV builder is designed to help you do just that. With customisable templates, professional CV examples, and expert guidance, we'll help you craft a compelling CV that highlights your unique strengths and potential.

Don't settle for a generic CV that blends in with the crowd. Let cvapp.ie be your secret weapon to showcase your soft skills and make a lasting impression on employers. 

Start your journey to career success today with cvapp.ie and discover the difference a professionally crafted CV can make.

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