Slowly Sipping Coffee

Are soft skills worth highlighting?

Soft skills offer you glimpse into a persons personality.

Soft skills offer you glimpse into a persons personality.

With all of this talk about layoffs and possibly looking for a new job soon Mrs. SSC has been working on her resume. Don’t worry, she’s been working on it before now, but it keeps bringing up this debate over whether or not to highlight soft skills. If you do list them, to what degree should they be featured and what is the best way to incorporate them? We have opposing schools of thought on this concept. I think they show a side of you that your technical skills may not reflect, while Mrs. SSC tends to go the more traditional route and downplay or not list soft skills at all. Let me elaborate on some of my more humorous soft skills and then I will show how they can be interpreted on a resume.

Soft Skills:

  1. Advanced Banjo, Guitar, and Dulcimer player
  2. Excels at Small Talk: Voted “Most Likely to be in Someone Else’s Office Chatting” by my previous company
  3. Excellent Gardener: Produced 1 perfect tomato from a single plant – expects to double success this fall
  4. World of Tanks: Blitz!:  Deputy Tank Commander of VOLT clan. Achieved a 64% Win Rate
  5. Excels at Weeding: Uses hands to pull roots instead of indiscriminately using chemicals
  6. Franchise owner in Madden XXV: 8 consecutive Superbowl Titles, Developed 2 MVP quarterbacks from Rookie status
  7. Candy Crush Soda: Achieved Level 368 – current level progress may be higher than listed


Interpretation of Soft Skills by Hiring Manager

  1. Creative, and disciplined to become advanced on an instrument – instrument choice shows outside of the box thinker
  2. Good office personality, probably well-liked by colleagues. Would transition well into any group. Plays nice with others.
  3. Prefers quality over quantity! Willing to put in the hard work for little reward. Probably would accept more work for same pay and not complain…
  4. Knows how to strategize, lead a team, and manage risk. Can quickly assess a situation and determine the best scenario to achieve success!
  5. Not afraid of hard work, selective in his thought process and work methods.
  6. Good manager, and can develop people – possibly mentor material and/or leadership position
  7. Persistent, driven to win. Won’t accept defeat, but continues to strive for victory


Interpretation of Soft Skills by Mrs. SSC

  1. Choice of instruments sounds like a hippy, maybe not corporate material
  2. Doesn’t stay on task – disrupts others – could be counter-productive to the whole floor if left to roam the halls on his own
  3. Can’t grow anything – must not use internet for help or reach out to others when needed. Who grows only 1 tomato?!
  4. Spends too much time playing games – 64% win rate?! That doesn’t happen overnight…
  5. Weeding by hand?! Who does that – this guy is stuck in the past – chemicals are around for a reason, sounds like a typical work harder not work smarter situation…
  6. Again with the games?! Does this guy have a social life – probably just everyone he chats up at work…
  7. ??? Shows ability to get obsessed with things that don’t matter. Probably heads down lots of rabbit holes in his current work projects. Probably easy for him to get distracted and stay off task…


Clearly Mrs. SSC is a bit more harsh than the hiring manager’s interpretation of my awesome soft skill set, because I did get hired by a different company. They tend to like the out of the box soft skills I’ve spent a lifetime developing, but I can’t seem to get Mrs. SSC on board with that. She keeps rolling her eyes and telling me I’m ridiculous and those kind of soft skills would get her passed over for an interview, much less a position. I have to disagree. I mean, I added some soft skills like mine to her resume, and she didn’t protest at all. Although, I didn’t tell her, so maybe she hasn’t noticed yet?

What are some soft skills you would put on leave off of a resume? Have you ever seen anything as ridiculous as my soft skill set on an actual resume?

16 thoughts on “Are soft skills worth highlighting?

  1. Tawcan

    I think soft skills are important but only list those that are relevant to the job you’re applying. Structure your resume so it’s targeted for specific job. Check the job description and if there are soft skills that are important for the job, definitely include them in the “customized” resume. Good luck.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      I totally agree. When I was looking for a new job I had a resume tailored for each company and position I was applying to. I didn’t have any soft skills that were very applicable, like most of the ones above. :) I did include volunteer work, and working with local teachers to better teach earth science.

  2. Our Next Life

    Haha — love this post!

    I have never seen such a list on an actual resume, and I probably wouldn’t interview the person who included all of this. 😉

    I think including a few soft skills that are especially relevant to the job (things that will help that company make money) is a good idea, but don’t let it hog a lot of real estate.

    Keeping fingers crossed for you guys!

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      It came about after discussions of what types of ridiculous soft skills could end up on a resume and how they could be “positively interpreted”. :)
      I was trying to cheer Mrs. SSC up with ways she could “strengthen her resume” and this post came about.

      I haven’t applied for any job that the above skill set would apply, so these sit on “that resume” of mine, just waiting to see the light of day. When I find that job, you can bet, all these are going on the application, because it could be a really fun job!

  3. Steve @ Think Save Retire

    I did a lot of hiring before I took my current job, so I got a chance to look at a lot of different resumes. Hiring is an art as much as it is a science, and every hiring manager takes a different approach to weeding out the qualified from the unqualified.

    To be perfectly honest, I did not see many soft skills listed on resumes, but even if I did, I probably wouldn’t give those skills much credence. Generally, hiring managers will inspect resumes for keywords (highlighting those keywords, if within paragraph or sentence form, will help and shows that you have an understanding of organization and judgement) and very little else. Then again, I was hiring for very technical positions, so a candidate’s mastery of de-weeding their yard doesn’t help to prove fitness for a particular job that requires a very specific set of skills and experience.

    Other industries may be different, but I would surmise that the majority of hiring managers are looking for skill sets and probably won’t take softer skills, unless related to the job, all that seriously. But again, there may be exceptions out there.

    If I got a resume that included a bunch of soft skills, those skills would neither enhance nor detract from my decision to interview or hire that person.

    Our Next Life brings up a good point regarding real estate. I almost ALWAYS immediately threw out resumes that were over three pages long, and anything more than two pages was really, really pushing it. Long resumes don’t impress me. They don’t impress many hiring managers. And so, if those soft skills are going to potentially add a page to your overall resume, I’d tend to advise against their inclusion.

    …just my incredibly humble opinion. :)

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      I agree, I’ve seen some current job titles from friends of mine on Linkedin that make me think, “Man, they are going to get passed over just based on their wording of a job title.”

      I currently haven’t been able to showcase these soft skills for a job, and short of some volunteer work with earth science teachers, I haven’t usually had any relevant soft skills that I could think of. I found that keeping my resume short and focusing on the applicable technical skills specific to the job I was applying for, I got a lot of phone interviews and interest.

      Too bad some of my other skills don’t get too far in the working world… :(

  4. amber tree

    On my resume, I mention soft skills that I can relate to in an interview. Some examples are

    1- volunteer work for the school of the kids (I manage the finances). It shows I am social, interact also outside the job. I can use it as an example on topics like work life balance, and example of where I use other skills than my work skills
    2- running – Shows that I try to be healthy

    On the resume above, I would not mention in details the tomato and weeding, maybe put a summary like gardening?

    The gaming I would mention it if you can demonstrate some strategy skills and results and come up with a good story on how much time you spend.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      I agree, the soft skills highlighted above are pretty light on anything I’d want in hiring someone. If the job is specific enough to warrant mentioning the tomato and weeding, a general “gardening” would be the way to go. I wish i could come up with a way to work gaming into my current field, but alas, it isn’t really fitting either.

      I have put some volunteer work on resumes before, but I haven’t thought of many other ones that could be applicable for my field. It’s too bad, because some of the best parts of me are hidden in my technical work. :)

  5. Fervent Finance

    I say definitely add a line about them if they’re specific to the job you’re applying to. People in my line of work want to make sure you can talk efficiently/effectively with upper level management, and therefore I’d probably put a one-line about my experience with regards to that.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      I found that unless it’s really specific, it’s hard to work “applicable” soft skills into my field. I did score points in the interview with my current company when I started talking about DPI and economics regarding wells and drilling programs. Seriously, it was like when a dog sees t you have a treat. Their ears perked up and the got excited and that sparked another 15 minutes of discussion. It was a l…o…n…g interview….

      I’d love a job that fit all of the above soft sills though, but I’m guessing a part-time gardener and full time gamer exists only in the ’80’s movies like The Toy with Richard Pryor. If that job pops up though, I’m ready!” hahaha

  6. MyMoneyDesign

    I totally agree that soft skills can you a lot of perspective and insight into a person. When I used to do the hiring at my old job, I would always ask what sort of hobbies people had. It was amazing the kinds of things people would respond with, and in some cases it really put them in a different light (both good and bad).

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      That’s a good point. I could see talking up hobbies like home-brewing and the science behind how you can affect the flavor profile, based on grains, timing of hops and temperature might be good. While mentioning I have a blog on how I want to have a Fully Funded Lifestyle Change, i.e. hit FIRE in a few years, should probably not get mentioned, lol.

      I can only imagine some of the things you must have heard, good and bad. :) Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Prudence Debtfree

    This might be a matter of gender. The harmful stereotype is that women are all soft-skill and lacking in “hard-skill” competence. Given the industry culture, a woman might feel she has to emphasize her hard skills and even downplay her soft skills in order to be taken seriously. A man, on the other hand, comes across as more likable when soft skills are apparent. His hard skills are more readily accepted – assumed even. I wish Mrs. SSC the best as she navigates employment opportunities. Here’s hoping she finds the best fit possible – for both types of skill sets.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      That’s a good point that we hadn’t brought up yet when discussing it. We kept trying hard to find soft skills that might be applicable for either of us, which led to the ridiculous examples above, but we had a hard time finding some that would add anything other than “fluff” to her resume.

      We are both planning on her finding a better fitting job for her personality regardless of the outcome in 2 weeks. There’s no point staying somewhere if you don’t get anything out of it except feeling like you’re just trading time for money only. Her company has done a good job of driving that home for her even more so recently, so a change is coming regardless!

  8. Hannah

    I recently read a Harvard Business Review article that said that empathy is the most important executive quality. What I would say is that soft skills like playing an instrument but character and personality are both critical to workplace success (and failure).

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      I would totally agree. My sole reason for leaving my last company was driven by my supervisors personality and character. After going thru the proper channels and being told I would be in that position for another 18-24 months, I started looking around and was gone from that company in les than 4 months.
      I could almost thank him now, because I like my new company and positions I’ve had so far, mainly due to the great personalities people have here. They’re genuinely nice and caring, while still being professional. I’m still amazed by how many people smile and say hi, and I know neither one of us know each other. It’s just a great environment.

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