QUESTION: Why and under what circumstances would I want to include interpersonal strengths information on my resume?
A resume can be more appealing by providing information on what unique qualities you have. Employers often overlook valuable employees when a resume only lists previous jobs or experience. When your resume relates experience and skills with the appropriate personal style match, it is a win/win situation for the employer and the employee. Your inherent personal communication style and behavioral strengths display certain traits that are increasingly important to your long-term job satisfaction. The employer enjoys augmented productivity from a well-placed, fulfilled employee. The dominant strengths of your unique personal style should be highlighted.
Interpersonal strengths are critical for roles where you will be dealing other people in any capacity as part of your job. Employers may tolerate a learning curve for technical skills for a new hire, but they don’t want to train someone how to effectively work with others. (As a bonus, showcase how you used these skills to handle a difficult situation and/or deliver results!)
Interpersonal strengths and other soft skills can convey personality, set you apart from others, and improve keyword matching in an automated resume scan. But don’t just list these skills; cite examples (accomplishments) that illustrate how you used them and how they benefited the customer, colleague, or company. And be certain that intangibles don’t outweigh hard skills and other qualifications.
This “soft skills” group is highly sought after by employers, and there is no downside to always having these skills on your resume. Job posts are peppered with them. Cross-functional collaboration, verbal and written communications, active listening, problem solving, conflict resolution, relationship management, mentoring, leadership, and team building are all part of this broad skill group.
Interpersonal strengths should be included in all resumes, not just under special circumstances. They can be strategically written into the resume summary, position summary paragraphs, and call-out boxes. Hiring managers typically cite a candidate’s “soft skills” or emotional intelligence (EQ) as a more important gauge of who will be top performers: How well an employee will work with or lead teams, solve problems, and lead change.
Although interpersonal strengths may sound like the highly generalized, non-quantifiable fluff that resume experts often recommend avoiding, there are a variety of effective techniques to include them in your resume. Take several of your strengths that played a critical role in specific projects, and use them as modifiers, along with any measurable results that were attained.
Including information about interpersonal strengths within your resume content is always appropriate when you aim for management and leadership roles, as well as any role that requires interaction with other departments, stakeholders, and colleagues. Incorporate interpersonal strengths like collaboration, ability to work in teams, and calmness under pressure in an opening statement to your resume (your Profile or Summary), as well as in some of your bulleted accomplishments under each position, to describe how you achieved the outcome you list. Most employers state the interpersonal skills they desire, which makes them keywords in the ATS. Show you are a match by including those keywords, when they are applicable and true.
Interpersonal strengths are often embedded in postings as keywords. So, to help boost your resume’s correlation to postings, you’ll want to include them. This is particularly true in highly client-facing environments, as well as industries (such as IT) that are notorious for attracting people whose interpersonal skills aren’t very strong.
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