Don't Be a Hardhead: Soft Skills Count, Even in High-Tech Jobs

By LiveCareer

Workers in tech-centric roles are right to be proud of the technical, or hard, skills they've acquired over the course of their educations and careers. These skills are hard won and imperative to their success in their chosen fields.

However, in their recently released 2018 Skills Gap Report, LiveCareer suggests that recruiters today have a soft spot for workers with soft skills, regardless of the role they are looking to fill. Even in careers where soft skills haven't historically held a ton of weight - such as in software development and accounting, for example - employers are now looking for candidates who are the whole package. In other words, it's critical today that workers, even though in highly technical jobs, demonstrate that they also possess soft skills.

In the study, researchers defined tech-centric jobs as those jobs for which some form of higher education is required. These roles typically rely on a bevy of hard skills - or skills that can be learned and measured - to be performed. (Soft-centric occupations, on the other hand, were defined as jobs that don't require formal training or higher education, such as bartending, sales associates, and customer service representatives.)

For all kinds of jobs, a disparity exists between the skills that are being listed in a job ad and what jobseekers are including in their resumes. Jobseekers on average are matching only 59 percent of hard skills and just 62 percent of soft skills in their resumes versus what employers list in job ads. (In general, job ads request an average of 16.7 hard skills, but resumes include only 9.8 hard skills; for soft skills, job ads ask for an average of 5.2, while resumes include just 3.2.)

Further, since the study found that job ads are asking for 4.25x more hard skills than soft skills for tech-centric workers, it not surprising that those jobseekers often overlook the important of including soft skills on their resumes. However, the skills gap study also found that employers increasingly value customer service and communications skills in candidates, including those jobseekers who are applying for jobs that are considered tech-centric.

In fact, the study found that tech-centric employers are actively seeking candidates who possess the same soft skills as customer-facing employees. Communication skills and customer service are, across the board, the most commonly cited soft skills requirements in job ads.

The takeaway for jobseekers in tech-centric occupations: pay attention to your soft skills just as much as your hard skills. These jobseekers must find better ways to articulate soft skills to potential employers - both in their resumes and in the interview phase of the job search - that is if they do indeed possess these valuable skills.

One way to accomplish this is for jobseekers to spend time personalizing their resumes to reflect the exact wording of the job ad. Since many employers today are using applicant tracking systems (most of which don't understand nuance in language) as the first lines of screening in the hiring process, jobseekers must take extra care with the language they use.

To accomplish this, take care to study the hard and soft skills listed in job ads and then echo the language the ads use precisely in your resume. For example, if a job ad asks for a candidate with "solid oral communication skills," writing "solid verbal communication skills" could disqualify you from the running.

Need more guidance on how to incorporate soft skills into your tech-centric resume? Peruse LiveCareer's free resume examples and see how other successful professionals have expressed those skills in their resumes. You can also consider putting our free, easy-to-use Resume Builder to use. Make 2018 the year in which you advance your career goals with a top-notch resume!