I recently coached an accomplished mid-career professional through finding a new job after a corporate downsizing. She’d been employed at a big-name company for 12 years, during which she’d advanced in her position 4 times. In addition to her marketable skills, this client, whom we’ll call Andrea, had a work history which demonstrated loyalty, growth potential and initiative.
Andrea was anxious about her job options. She expressed concern about her salary requirements, which she hoped to match in her next position. She’d been interviewing, and when the final decision came down to her and another candidate with similar qualifications, she felt she may have been pricing herself out of a job. She assumed the hiring manager would see them as equally qualified and hire whichever candidate they could pay the least.
Andrea didn’t realize that a long-term tenure and advancement within the company is considered highly valuable to hiring managers. The promotions she received during a work history of 12-years with her former employer display attributes more valuable than skillsets.
In fact, studies show a candidate’s personality traits can matter as much as technical skills in hiring decisions – flexibility and willingness to learn are top among them.
This conversation came as a timely reminder of the importance of developing a personal brand as part of your career plan. Job seekers can get so focused on keywords and referral networking in order to land the interview, it’s easy to forget that the real edge goes beyond what you read on a resume.
The Right Personal Attributes Level Up Your Career Opportunities
Soft skills are the “intangible character traits,” as opposed to hard skills, like coding. Difficult to measure, they come up interviews in the form of “tell me about yourself”, or “tell me about a time when…”. As random as they might sounds, these are ultimately the questions that matter.
According to a recent study, business leaders tend to value soft skills over hard skills . Hard skills can be learned and improved, but soft skills are the root of one’s character and can be harder to learn.
These answers were sourced from Monster.com, and respondents were asked to select three options out of fifteen.
The top three soft skills selected were problem-solving, communication, and time management.
Think of how important these attributes are. If as a hiring manager, I offer you the job and you complain incessantly, refuse to collaborate, or treat others poorly, I’ve made a poor hire, no matter how technically skilled you are.
So, back to my qualified client. How might she communicate her soft skills, and the value she can bring to an organization beyond her stated qualifications using her professional brand?
By sharing examples or third-party endorsements, she can highlight the valuable attributes she’s known for contributing.
Conveying what you’re known or recognized for by others, in a way that enables potential employers to envision how you’ll work within their culture, makes the difference.
After our conversation, Andrea updated her resume and LinkedIn summary to highlight her brand: “recognized for flexibility and growth potential, selected for multiple promotions” calls attention to these valuable characteristics, which she can continue to emphasize during her interviews.
She could also have said “known as a competent team-player, consistently recognized through multiple promotions” to convey her personal attributes in a professional way.
Summarizing your soft skills shifts the conversation from a strictly experience-based discussion to focus on the qualities that really matter in a hiring decision; compatibility, competency and commitment. An effective brand illustrates how you’ll contribute to the company culture in ways beyond skillset, conveying your value you need to generate the best offer and ultimately land the job.
You can use your personal brand in your resume Summary Statement, on cover letters and in your LinkedIn profile to communicate your unique value to the world.
About the author
Elizabeth Borelli is a professionally trained career coach, curriculum developer and workshop facilitator. Frustrated by a lack of resources for candidates ready to return to work after a career break, she created CareerBuilder Bootcamps; a set of interactive, online courses to accelerate job search success.
Engaging, online courses combined with one-to-one coaching calls prepare job seekers to find the right new career opportunities, helping them to stay positive and engaged throughout the process.
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