(and how to show you have them)
Have you ever heard the term “soft skills” and wondered what that meant? How about “career-readiness competencies”? No matter what you call them, it’s a fact: employers want to hire people who not only have the education to do a specific job, but also have the personal skills like teamwork and communication that make them good all-around employees.
You might also hear them called “transferable skills” – that’s because you can gain these skills in many areas of your life, and then transfer them to any career path. The good news? Your experiences in college are helping you acquire those skills along the way. Here are eight career-readiness skills that employers are looking for, and tips from us on how to show you have them!
Career & Self-Development
What it is: Proactively developing oneself through continual personal and professional learning, awareness of one’s strengths and weaknesses, navigation of career opportunities, and networking to build relationships.
- Example behaviors: You show an awareness of your own strengths and areas for growth; you seek out opportunities to learn, develop plans for your future career, and maintain relationships with people who can help you professionally.
- Ways to show this skill: Attending career development workshops and events; completing professional education or training related to your field of study.
- On your résumé: List industry-affiliated clubs or student chapters of professional organizations; add LinkedIn Learning courses you’ve taken. (Tip: LinkedIn Learning courses are free for OSU students!)
What is is: Clearly and effectively exchanging information, ideas, facts, and perspectives with others both inside and outside of an organization.
- Example behaviors: You can communicate clearly and in multiple ways: verbally; via non-verbal cues and body language; and through writing and editing. You can also employ active listening skills, and you can communicate with respect to a diversity of learning styles, varied individual communication abilities, and cultural differences.
- Ways to show this skill: Completed papers, presentations, and group projects; customer service roles; and by asking clarifying questions.
- On your résumé: Customer service roles are great examples of communication skills. If you’ve worked in food service, hospitality, retail, or any public-facing role, you’ve built communication skills. You can also add educational experiences, such as examples of major projects you’ve completed that involved gathering input from others, or that required a public presentation.
What it is: Identifying and responding to needs, based on an understanding of situational content and logical analysis of relevant information.
- Example behaviors: You can make decisions and solve problems using sound, inclusive reasoning and judgement; you gather information from a diverse set of sources to fully understand a problem; you can anticipate needs and prioritize action steps.
- Ways to show this skill: Share examples of anything that requires a plan with specific steps to solve a problem, such as research papers, projects, and service learning.
- On your résumé: Any job that requires you to multi-task well in a fast-paced environment shows your critical thinking skills; any classroom project, volunteer project or workplace task in which you were given a problem and asked to come up with a plan to solve it.
Equity & Inclusion
What it is: Demonstrating the awareness, attitude, knowledge and skills required to equitably engage and include people from different cultures. Engaging in anti-racist practices that actively challenge the systems, structures, and policies of racism.
- Example behaviors: You can solicit and use feedback from multiple cultural perspectives to make inclusive and equity-minded decisions; you advocate for and actively contribute to inclusive and equitable practices that influence individual and systemic change.
- Ways to show this skill: Seek out global and cultural exchange experiences that will broaden your perspective; engage in advocacy for inclusion and empowerment for historically marginalized communities.
- On your résumé: List any study abroad or volunteer experiences that gave you the opportunity to experience diverse cultural perspectives; include any participation in anti-racist or equity-minded organizations or clubs.
What it is: Recognizing and capitalizing on personal and team strengths to achieve common goals.
- Example behaviors: You can inspire, persuade and motivate yourself and others under a shared vision; you use innovative methods to beyond traditional methods, and you serve as a role model by approaching tasks with confidence and a positive attitude.
- Ways to show this skill: Sign up for lead roles in organizations or class projects; take initiative on additional responsibilities in jobs, volunteer work or internships.
- On your résumé: List any role in which you served as a team lead (even if it was a sports team, club or class project – it’s the same skill set whether you were paid for it or not). Be ready to share some examples of ways you planned, initiated or managed projects.
What it is: Knowing work environments differ greatly, understanding and demonstrating effective work habits, and acting in the interest of the larger community and workplace.
- Example behaviors: You act equitably, with integrity and accountability to yourself, others, and the organization; you demonstrate dependability and consistently meet or exceed expectations. You work with a high level of detail and complete work with few (if any) errors.
- Ways to show this skill: Share your successes in completing projects on time; talk about how you prioritize when juggling competing priorities and tasks.
- On your résumé: List any jobs that required you to pay attention to small details and prioritize tasks; include awards like “employee of the month” regardless of whether they were received in an office setting, a volunteer job, or a fast food restaurant – it’s all evidence of your professionalism.
What it is: Building and maintaining collaborative relationships to work toward common goals, while appreciating diverse viewpoints and shared responsibilities.
- Example behaviors: You listen carefully to others, taking time to understand and ask questions without interrupting; you can effectively manage conflict, interact with and respect diverse personalities, and meet ambiguity with resilience. You know how to compromise and collaborate.
- Ways to show this skill: Projects where responsibility is shared, team-oriented jobs, and student organizations.
- On your résumé: Specifically mention times where your job required you to work with others to accomplish your tasks; list group projects in a classroom setting, team sports or clubs.
What it is: Understanding and leveraging technologies ethically to enhance efficiencies, complete tasks, and accomplish goals.
- Example behaviors: You can navigate change and can quickly adapt to new or unfamiliar technologies; you can identify appropriate technology for tasks and use technology to achieve strategic goals.
- Ways to show this skill: Share examples of how you’ve learned new technologies, or used technology to improve efficiency in school or work projects.
- On your résumé: include a list of software or technology that you’re proficient in; be prepared to talk about how you learned/used those skills.
More tips for gaining (and showing off) your transferable skills
“How to show off your soft skills to employers – with samples” – more tips from Handshake on adding transferable skills to your resume.
How to use power statements on your resume – Tips and examples from OSU’s career advisors on a how to write a power statement – a two-line, action-oriented statement you can add to your resume to show off your skills from previous experiences.