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Your career background and success is a combined effort of hard and soft skills. Hard skills are easily defined and listed on your resume, such as accomplishments, education and work experience. Soft skills can be troublesome when put into writing. Soft skills can only be evaluated and confirmed by an in-person meeting. After many years of recruiting experience, I know for a fact that when the experience, education and hard skills are equal, the candidate with the best soft skills will succeed and get the job.

Soft skills embody your verbal skills, poise, sense of humor, smile, self-confidence, eye contact, listening ability, honesty, energy level and intensity, leadership, attitude, integrity, handshake and vocabulary. Soft skills are best defined as the reflection of an individual’s persona. Listing your soft skills on your resume is discouraged because it will appear to be over-selling or egotistical. Resume stating I am, "a highly motivated, self-starter, energetic, people person, strong communication skills; a proven leader that can do the job for you," reads like a personal want ad. These statements can create to a false impression and do more harm then good.

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. I can’t remember reading a resume that stated “short and fat.” The resumes read 6’2" and 195 pounds, not 5’4" and 200 pounds. The most exaggerated number tend to be 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.” The best advice is do not list your height or weight, hair color, etc. on your resume.

When I prep a candidate for an upcoming interview, I devote most of the time working on their energy level and their ability to communicate during the interview. After a few minutes, I can usually tell if they are a positive or negative person and how much preparing they’ll need. My role is to pump them up, knowing that their energy and soft skills will decide interview success or failure.

RECAP: The bottom line is that your work experience and hard skills stated on your resume will secure an interview. Your soft skills will do the heavy lifting and earn you the job. Both skill bases are obviously vital in your job search. Be vigilant and don’t mix them together on your resume. Your resume should only list your definable hard skills and accomplishments.

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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.