Searching for a job involves a lot of time and preparation. Between polishing your resume, brushing up on hard skills, and rehearsing to make a great impression at the interview, looking for a job can often feel like a job on its own — especially for busy parents. While these tried-and-true job prep methods should be a part of your job searching routine, there is another weapon parents like you have in their arsenal: soft skills.
Just what are soft skills, how do they differ from traditional “hard” skills, and how can you identify and leverage your own? Let’s dive in to explore how soft skills can give you an edge in your job search.
What are soft skills?
When people talk about skills, they are often referring to hard skills, which are skills related to specific technical knowledge and training. Soft skills, on the other hand, are skills that correlate with personality traits. Both are essential to success in the workplace. While hard skills can help you perform your job, soft skills can be instrumental in working well with co-workers, navigating conflicts, and dealing with fast-paced environments.
Here are some examples of both hard skills and soft skills:
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Identifying your own soft skills
As a parent, you’ve honed many skills that can serve you in the workplace. If you’re having trouble identifying in what areas you shine, have no fear. We’ve developed a skills identification exercise that gets to the heart of who you are.
Download our skills identification exercise here. While the eventual list of skills you’ll end up with will be brief descriptors, the process of identification begins with a deep dive into who you are — what you do, what you’re good at, and what you’ve done in the past.
From here, you’ll categorize what you’ve noted into transferable soft skill buckets. Use the list of common soft skills we provide on our handout to get you started. As an example, if you are the go-to conflict negotiator in your family and have a knack for promoting harmony among your children, you could categorize that as conflict or crisis management. The ability to create harmony within groups could make you an invaluable asset to any company.
First and foremost, revamp your resume to highlight these integral characteristics. Make sure they are listed boldly and prominently so recruiters and hiring managers can quickly and easily see what you bring to the table. In today’s job-searching market, LinkedIn is integral. Make sure you add your soft skills to your profile, along with your technical skills. What skills stand out most to potential employers? Communication, teamwork, and adaptability are top contenders.
Networking Events and Interviews
Being able to articulate your skills will be one of the most powerful ways you can showcase your advantages. You may find yourself at a networking event when looking for a job; for example, attending a marketing association meet-and-greet. Talking to new people can be anxiety-inducing, especially if you’re a parent who’s been out of the game for a while. Prepare an elevator pitch to make yourself feel more comfortable.
At an interview, you’ll have the support of your resume that landed you the opportunity in the first place, so use this starting point as your guide. Elaborate on the skills you listed by using specific examples and then applying this experience to the job you’re seeking, detailing how your skills can be a benefit to the company.
Here are some examples of how you can articulate the value of your soft skills.
Multitasking and Time Management
As a parent, you constantly juggle competing priorities from work deadlines to doctor appointments to home responsibilities. Those real-world skills translate directly into time management savvy employers want.
Communication and Emotional Intelligence
Navigating needs and conflicts between young kids or teens demands strong communication and the ability to read emotions. You can bring these strengths to communicate effectively at work.
Resilience and Adaptability
Raising kids through trying phases means coping with stress while still seeing the positives — and pivoting as things change. That resilience helps you handle work challenges with grace while projecting a can-do attitude.
Productivity and Focus
Between kids’ activities, partners’ needs, house duties and more, parents have lots of potential distractions. But we know how to get it done anyway. Share how your ability to focus can enhance your workplace interactions.
While work experience matters, employers also value emotional intelligence and relationship skills. For parents, those capabilities get built and strengthened daily. As you explore the next phase of your career, be sure to highlight how the soft skills you’ve honed make you an adaptable, empathetic, and dedicated employee. After all, the right balance of hard and soft skills can be your formula for career success.