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Each person has a combination of hard and soft skills. Hard skills are easily defined, such as education and work experience, while soft skills are difficult to put into writing. Hard skills can be accepted without meeting the person as are reflected on their resume. Soft skills can only be confirmed by meeting the person. My experience is that when it comes to job offers, the soft skills determine who gets the job. After many years of recruiting, I know for a fact that when all the candidates’ work experience, education and hard skills are equal, the candidate with the best soft skills will win!

Soft skills consist of your verbal skills, poise, sense of humor, your smile, self-confidence, eye contact, listening ability, honesty, energy level and intensity, attitude, integrity, handshake, vocabulary, etc. In order to assess someone’s soft skills you must meet them. Soft skills can be best defined as the quality of a person’s charisma. Trying to define your soft skills on a resume will appear to be over-selling and egotistical. Resume listings, such as, "a highly motivated, energetic person with strong communication skills; a proven leader that can do the job for you," reads like a person’s want-ad looking, for a companion.

Your physical image is both a soft and hard skill. It’s primarily a soft skill because you cannot evaluate a person’s image without meeting them. A candidate that lists their height and weight on their resume is trying to communicate their image to the reader of the resume. The resume of a tall and slender candidate might state their height and weight. I cannot remember reading a resume that stated "short and fat." The resumes read 6’2" and 195 pounds, not 5’4" and 200 pounds. Even if a resume states tall and slender, you still need to meet them to verify their image. The most exaggerated number is the person’s weight. I’ve asked a candidate if they still weigh 195 pounds. Frequently, the response is, "That resume is old, I have gained a little weight." If you feel your physical image is an asset, it’s OK to list it on your resume, but be ready to back up your statement in person.

When I prepare a candidate for an upcoming interview, I spend most of the time working on their energy level and their ability to communicate for the interview. After a few minutes on the phone, I can usually judge if they are positive or negative and how much preparing they’ll need. My role is to pump them up, knowing that their soft skills will determine the interview outcome.

The bottom line is that your work experience and hard skills will secure an interview, but your soft skills will get you the job. Both skills are obviously vital in your job search. Be vigilant about mixing them together on your resume. Your resume should only list your hard skills.

[QUICK TIP] Remember, what's listed on your resume gets you the interview. What can't be listed gets you the job. Work to improve all your soft skills.

PLEASE NOTE: emails received become the property of "Dear Headhunter" and may be published unless otherwise requested. Questions may be edited for content and length. All questions will be reviewed, some without a reply.

George Gurney has been a leader in the employment industry since 1976. He founded an executive search firm that conducts domestic and international assignments.  He has won numerous awards for recruiting excellence.  He has been a guest speaker at national conventions and seminars.