Often people get caught up in focusing on appealing to their experience, technical skills, and success stories in order to make a good impression and secure their career steps.
While checking off all the boxes on those is extremely important – how do employers choose between multiple equally skilled candidates? Naturally, they will take into account a variety of factors including compensation, culture fit as well as their “sixth sense” or a “gut feeling”.
However, often what they call a “gut feeling” is their way of expressing how they interpreted your soft skills.
So let’s first take a step back and go over what exactly “soft skills” are:
Perseverance & Dedication
Adaptability, Creativity & Problem Solving
Communication and Persuasion
Enthusiasm & Passion
Now, what you need to remember is most hiring managers are not going directly to ask you “tell me about your perseverance”… Rather, it is going to be up to you to show them your soft skills in the way you answer their questions.
So, the method to do this is simple yet quite difficult to do.
What – What – How – Result method.
Clearly introduce the problem/challenge that you faced (What)
Share what you did in that situation (What)
Add more information on the steps you took to deliver (How)
Round this answer off with the result of your actions (Result)
As an example:
Question: Tell me about a situation where you had to deal with a difficult client?
Answer: We had a long standing client who wanted to renegotiate our prices lower (What). I met with the client with the intent to keep favourable terms and improve our relationship (What). In this case, I took a consultative approach to ask why they wanted to lower prices, and to understand if they were not satisfied with our service. Through this, could identify that our client would actually be better served by one of our new service lines which addressed his concerns (How). As a result, he signed a new contract with us, for an upgraded premium service (Result).
What soft skills can we see in this answer?
– Perseverance, Problem Solving, Adaptability, Communication and Persuasion
Bottom line: When you are explaining your role, results, situations you figured out, you must talk about “how” you did it, not only the results. The age old idiom “results are everything” is not enough when you have tough competition.
When you have 2 candidates both with the same results, then the deciding factor comes down to the “how”.
It is in this “how” that you show your dedication, your problem solving skills, your adaptability and teamwork, your tenacity.
Over years of recruitment, we have even seen employers choose candidates with lesser results because their soft skills – their reasoning and actions, were much higher. It just hadn’t connected to the results.
So, the takeaway?
Don’t rely on your CV and hard skills to land you the job, and even if you may be lacking in some of the hard skills, don’t give up on applying, as you may be more qualified than you even realize.