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Show your soft skills before you even get the job

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By Carter Dyson
Carter Dyson is One Stop Director for Kentucky Career Center – Lincoln Trail

There’s no doubt that employers value soft skills – work ethic, communications skills, a positive attitude and more.
In fact, in a CareerBuilder survey of more than 2,100 hiring managers and human resources professionals earlier this year, 77 percent said soft skills were as important as hard skills. Sixteen percent said soft skills associated with personal attributes and character are more important than hard skills such as operating a computer program or machinery when evaluating candidates for a job.
It’s clear job seekers with these skills have a great advantage and shouldn’t let their soft skills go unnoticed.
Don’t simply throw around words like reliable, hard worker, quick learner and team player on your resume or in an interview. Take advantage of the opportunities you have to demonstrate your soft skills during the hiring process.
Let’s start with the resume. This is your first opportunity to show an employer that you are an effective communicator. Make every sentence or bullet point in your resume clear, concise and engaging.
Consider telling an employer about the soft skills that led to any extraordinary accomplishments in your career as well. For example, let an employer know how you used critical thinking and leadership skills to meet a goal, even though your deadline was shortened and you were working under pressure.
Also, nothing disproves your claim of being detail oriented like a resume littered with typos. Proofread. Then, proofread again.
The interview process presents many other ways to show your soft skills.
Researching the company heavily and working what you know about the company into your answers will show you take initiative.
Don’t give the employer reason to doubt your work ethic. Arrive 15 minutes early. In fact, make a dry run to the interview location so you’ll know exactly how much time you need.
Listen to the long-held advice about appearance. Employers see it as an indicator of your judgment. Though some fields vary, conservative business attire is appropriate. Jewelry and makeup should be conservative as well.
In most interviews you’ll want to bring extra resumes and a pen and notepad. Suppose it’s a panel interview and only one of the interviewers has a hard copy of your resume. Passing out your extra copies speaks to your organizational skills.
As in your resume, the interview is an opportunity to show your communication skills. Practice answering typical interview questions and develop a 30-second commercial about you. This will help you field questions with confidence.
Remember, a good communicator is a good listener. Answer questions completely and follow the natural flow of the conversation, but avoid dominating the interview.
The Kentucky Career Center – Lincoln Trail can help you learn more about the soft skills employers in our region seek. Check out our free workshops including “Interviewing Techniques,” offered at 9 a.m. Sept. 9 and 23 at our Bardstown location. Our Leitchfield and Elizabethtown locations also offer regular workshops and our Lebanon location offers soft skills training on request.
Plus, career counselors at our four locations across the region are always ready to help job seekers with soft skills information and a number of other free services.
Editor’s note: Carter Dyson is One Stop Director for Kentucky Career Center – Lincoln Trail. He can be reached at 270-766-5115 or carter.dyson@ky.gov. For more information on soft skills training, call the Kentucky Career Center – Lincoln Trail, 270-692-6870, 145 Cemetery Road, Suite 4, Lebanon.