Job Qualifications: Curiosity, Empathy, and Gratitude

What comes to mind when you think of the term "soft skills?" When you look at a job description, the primary qualifications are usually characteristics like organizational skills, project management, and leadership. In some industries, adjectives like "objective" and "tactical" in the job description imply that soft skills are actually a liability to job performance, rather than a strength. While hiring managers and business leaders often bemoan the lack of these traits in their employees, the resume is a challenging vehicle for expressing mastery of soft skills.

Many of my coaching clients say that their interpersonal skills have been enormously appreciated by their customers and coworkers, but it is difficult to express their strengths on paper in a way that appeals to hiring managers.

My strategy is simple: it's all in the translation.

Every "soft skill" can be translated into language that appeals to the hard-nosed business leader. With a thesaurus app, this strategy isn't hard to accomplish. Here are a few examples.

Curiosity. I'm insatiably curious, which I believe is one of my strongest assets in the workplace. Whether exploring new software or getting to know a stakeholder, my curiosity has led me to discover innovative solutions and build strong relationships. Because it's rare to find "curiosity" listed in a job description, here are a few words or phrases I use to describe this quality on paper:

  • inquisitive
  • keen intellect
  • knowledge seeker
  • innovative, growth mindset
  • creative thinker

Empathy. I believe that many skills can be learned, but empathy is usually NOT one of them. The ability to see a situation from someone else's viewpoint is one of the most valuable attributes in the workplace, yet it's rarely listed as a job requirement. Here are some other ways to express your ability to empathize.

  • builds rapport quickly
  • attentive listener
  • thorough grasp of customer needs
  • excellent interpersonal skills
  • able to see multiple perspectives

Gratitude. There has been a great deal written about the importance of expressing gratitude in the workplace. If your office has a culture of gratitude, your employees are likely to work harder and contribute more. 

  • cohesive team builder
  • natural leader
  • socially adept
  • lead by example
  • inspires loyalty and dedication
Professional woman shaking hands warmly with colleague.

Professional woman shaking hands warmly with colleague.

The words you use to describe your soft skills can be a bridge that helps translate the importance of these abilities into a language that business leaders can understand. Show the value you bring to a workplace by your mastery of these skills. Try a few in your resume and cover letter, and work them into your next interview! Let me know how it goes -- I'd love to hear your feedback!