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All you need to know about Soft Skills

Here at the Cronkite School, you are learning and developing writing, digital and multimedia skills. But what non-technical skills will serve you well in the workplace?  Here's what to know about soft skills and why employers value those things just as much as the hard skills.


During this session, we were joined by David "D.P." Leighton, assistant director of Creative Careers. Leighton serves as the liaison between Career and Professional Development Services and the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.


What are Soft Skills?

Hard skills: Something measurable, something you have a degree in.

Soft Skills: Interpersonal skills (attention to detail, time management, leadership/teamwork, communication)


Examples of both types of skills can be seen here:

Hard skills vs Soft skills

How do I know if I have Soft Skills?

Everyone has soft skills! The tricky thing is pinpointing exactly what yours are.

"I think as creative individuals as storytellers. We don't really understand the idea of soft skills because we're so focused on trying to prove our technical competencies,"Leighton said.

Soft skills are qualified skills, things that you can't necessarily be tested on. For example, how would you test someone on how good they are at time management or being a team player? How about their intercultural fluency or attention to diversity and inclusion?


These skills aren't as testable as the hard skills, but they are incredibly important that not having might jeopardize your ability to get jobs because it could signal to employers that you're so focused on your writing or video editing skills that you don't know how to be a team player that you don't know how to join and be part of their organization.


How do I show them off?

There are tons of places for you to show off both your hard and soft skills and it isn't just your resume. Infuse these keywords into all the marketing materials you have made for yourself including your cover letter and online profiles.


Another great idea is to work these words into your interviews and when networking with industry professionals. This gives people an idea of who you are and what you're best at before they even look at your resume; and shows the consistency of your character.

Where to show off your skills
"If there's a way in which you can quantify how your communication skills increased sales that day or that your quick thinking and innovative skills helped save money or help save time, those are great ways of you being able to prove something that we can't necessarily test on," Leighton said.

What should I include?

Important soft skills you might have include:

  • Problem Solving & Critical Thinking

  • Written & Verbal Communication

  • Leadership

  • Digital Technology

  • Career Management

  • Teamwork & Collaboration

  • Professionalism & Work Ethic and,

  • Global & Intercultural Fluency

These eight areas are known as the Career Readiness Competencies. No matter your age or industry, these are skills all employers are looking for in job candidate.


More Career Readiness Tips


Read the job description. Find out what keywords they use. These are words that should appear in your resume and/or cover letter.


Research the employer. Many companies include their mission statements in their job postings. This is a key indicator of what kind of individual they are seeking, and is another great place to find keywords to sprinkle throughout your resume and cover letter.


Network with professionals. Search for people currently doing the job you want. Connect with them on LinkedIn or similar platforms and ask them how they got their job; what words of advice they might have for someone just starting their career.


Tailor your resume. Include the skills that you have that this employer is looking for. A generic resume that you use for every job you apply for is not going to help you stand out to a recruiter or hiring manager. Among other tips to fine tune your resume, we suggest tweaking the copy in yours for every single job you apply for.


To learn more about these and other best practices, stream the full discussion here. This workshop was originally recorded during the 2020 Fine Tune Friday series hosted by the Cronkite School.

Current Cronkite School students are welcome to book a one-on-one Resume, Portfolio and LinkedIn Review Sessions with any member of our Cronkite Career Services team. Visit www.cronkitecareerservices.com/our-team to book an appointment.

More About Fine Tune Fridays:

Fine Tune Fridays offer students tips on how to fine-tune their professional persona from their resume to their wardrobe. Workshops are open to all Cronkite students and alumni, and are hosted virtually via Zoom. For a full schedule of upcoming events, visit: www.cronkitecareerservices.com/fine-tune-fridays.

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