Soft Skills HC
ATD Blog

Setting Yourself Apart With Soft Skills

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Many job candidates believe their college transcripts will get them where they need to go in life. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really work that way: How you did in college is inconsequential to how you will fare in the workforce. Good grades or making the dean’s list may make it easier for your resume to stand out in a sea of qualified job candidates, but of the hundreds of resumes your company is going to receive, they will only interview a dozen or so candidates and hire one person. Soft skills are the key to setting yourself apart.

Where Do Soft Skills Come From?

According to the Pew Research Center, 72 percent of people believe that individuals are solely responsible for acquiring the skills necessary to stand out in the job market. Unfortunately, there’s no “career skills” class at most colleges, and few professors mention that you are going to have to work on your soft skills outside of class.

The top five skills employers are looking for are leadership, being a team player, written communication skills, problem solving, and verbal communication skills. These are all things you should be able to glean from a college environment, but they aren’t usually taught explicitly. It’s up to a job candidate to identify weaknesses in these areas and improve them.

Setting Yourself Apart

Personality and leadership drive are among the soft skills employers screen for during the hiring process. Having a side project about which you are passionate is a great indicator to employers that you are interested in personal development and being innovative. It can also be a good indication you are driven to become a leader, a key factor in job success.


Before you get to your next job interview, there are several ways you can set yourself apart from other applicants. Study the company culture so you can determine whether you will be a good fit and why. Interview the interviewer about the position. These things will show off your soft skills to your prospective employer, demonstrating you can offer more than what is on your resume or in your college transcript. Practice so you can be confident: 33 percent of interviewers know within the first 90 seconds whether they would hire a job applicant, according to executive career management professional Martin Buckland.

Brush Up on Soft Skills

Reading self-help books about writing a resume, interviewing, and company cultures is a great start. But ultimately many will have to learn by doing: Figure out what works and what doesn’t while you’re on the job. Avail yourself of any learning opportunities your company presents. And, never stop learning! Learn more about how to get ahead in the workforce from this infographic!

About the Author

Maggie Kimberl is a freelance writer and lover of infographics based in Louisville, Kentucky. You can find her on Twitter @LouGirl502.

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