4 Soft Skills to Get You Noticed on the Job Search

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If you’re applying for jobs in the social-impact space, you’ve likely already noticed that there is a tremendous diversity of opportunities. As you browse all of the options, it’s worthwhile to consider not only which technical skills you’ll need to land your dream job, but also, which soft skills are most valued by employers in the space.

Lucky for you, in my professional career, I have reviewed thousands of social-impact jobs across multiple sectors. I’ve put together this detailed list of the soft skills that are most highly coveted by employers in the nonprofit and social-impact space.

Here are four skills that you should be sure to highlight on your resume.

1. Strong communication

The ability to communicate well both in writing and public speaking is critical for most jobs; especially the ability to communicate complex topics to lay audiences. Additionally, communication using social media is also growing in importance.

How can you show this skill?

Have you written major reports in college, for internships, or on the job? Were you responsible for developing web and social media content? Did you create brochures, press releases, newsletter articles, or other written products? Perhaps you were a teacher, a member of a debate team, gave presentations for work projects, or took a public speaking class?

If you answered “no” to all of the above, what can you do to obtain this skill?

Get involved with a local Toastmasters group where you will get lots of practice giving talks. Volunteer to write articles for organizations of interest or consider pitching an idea to Idealist Careers or finding a freelance writing gig.

2. Experience working in teams

While employers value the ability to work independently with little supervision, many social-impact employers rely on their staff to work in teams, often with people from different disciplines and backgrounds, to solve complex problems.

How can you show this skill?

Did you work on project teams for an academic project? Ever volunteer on a service project as part of a team? Have you served on a committee or board that collaborated on projects? Are you an athlete in a team sport?

If you answered “no” to all of the above, what can you do to obtain this skill?

Volunteer on a project that has a team in place, serve on a board, or volunteer to serve on or lead a work committee.

3. People skills

The ability to get along well with others and manage conflict is a must-have skill. Being able to cultivate relationships that help you forge new partnerships or gain new members and supporters is also highly valued by employers. And don’t underestimate the power of being a good listener.

How can you show this skill?

Did your people skills result in a new partnership or collaboration? Did you woo a new donor? Did you manage a conflict or bring consensus on a challenging issue?

If you answered no to all of the above, what can you do to obtain this skill?

Here are Ten Ways to Improve Your Interpersonal Skills.

Take time to observe people who have strong people skills and take notes on what they are doing right. Consider taking online classes. Spend more time interacting with people. Put down your phone in meetings with business colleagues and friends.

4. Leadership potential

Not everyone has to be a leader. But, having people who naturally take the initiative (without first being told) to improve processes and programs is invaluable. It’s also important for organizations to start thinking of leadership succession plans. Employers must have strong talent waiting in the wings.

How can you show this skill?

Have you served in a leadership role for a student organization? Served as an executive board member? Received leadership training? Taken the initiative to improve a process or program? Served in a project management or leadership role?

If you answered no to all of the above, what can you do to obtain this skill?

Find ways to sharpen your leadership skills. Mentor a more junior staff member. Step up and volunteer to serve in a leadership role (on a work committee, on a board, or even at church or neighborhood association). Take some online courses.

What other soft skills do social-impact employers value?

Do you work for a social-impact employer? We would love to hear from you what additional soft skills these employers value. Or, if you have other suggestions for how readers, share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Lisa is a certified career coach and President of Green Career Advisor, helping individuals find their career niche and secure their dream jobs in the environmental and social-impact sectors. Prior to her current role, Lisa led the environmental career services at the University of Michigan for 10 years and spent 12 years working for the National Wildlife Federation.
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  1. Reply

    Appreciating the time and energy you put into your website and in depth information you present. It’s good to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same out of date rehashed information. Fantastic read! I’ve saved your site

      • Alexis Perrotta
      • February 16, 2018
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      Thank you, Nisha! Please let us know if there are resources that you’re looking for that we don’t already have on the site. We love for our reader’s questions and comments to be able to inform future content.

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