Techniques for striking a balance between soft and hard skills in a CV

ByAnastasia Bahu

Techniques for striking a balance between soft and hard skills in a CV

Traditionally, a resume has emphasized a candidate’s technical proficiency and academic achievements. However, in the contemporary job market, employers and recruiters are increasingly recognizing the importance of soft skills alongside industrial expertise. Achieving the right balance between these two skill sets in a CV is crucial for candidates aspiring to stand out in today’s competitive job market. How can equilibrium in a resume be achieved? We invite our readers to explore this subject in today’s article that offers some effective strategies to achieve this goal.

Understanding the difference: Soft skills vs. Technical skills

Before delving into strategies, it’s important to grasp the distinction between soft and technical skills. Technical skills, often referred to as “hard skills”, include specific abilities and knowledge that is related to a particular field or industry. These could range from proficiency in programming languages to expertise in financial analysis. These skills are usually evidenced by degrees, diplomas, certifications, and other academic and technical qualifications.

On the other hand, soft skills, also known as “interpersonal” or “people” skills, are intangible social qualities that govern how individuals interact with others and navigate various professional situations. Examples of soft skills include communication, teamwork, adaptability, and problem-solving. Soft skills are harder to prove as their mastery does not necessarily come with a certificate. However, describing certain situations, results achieved, and providing references can help a candidate to address this challenge.

Difference between Soft and Hard skills explained

Source: LinkedIn

Strategies for achieving a balance between hard and soft skills in a CV

🔹 Tailor your CV to the job description: One of the most effective strategies is to customize your resume to align with the requirements of the job you’re applying for. Analyze the job description carefully to identify both the technical and soft skills sought by the employer then tailor your CV to highlight the experiences and achievements that demonstrate proficiency in these areas.

Practical application: If a job description highlights the need for strong communication skills in addition to technical expertise, ensure your CV showcases relevant experiences when you effectively communicated complex technical concepts to non-technical stakeholders. It makes sense to tailor your CV using the keywords from the job description.

🔹 Use the STAR method: When detailing your experiences on your CV, employ the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) method. This technique not only allows you to showcase your technical abilities but also provides insights into your soft skills.

Practical application: When describing a project you led, outline the challenges faced (Situation), your responsibilities (Task), the actions you took (Action), and the outcomes achieved (Result), thus demonstrating both your technical proficiency and leadership abilities.

🔹 Highlight Cross-Functional projects: Emphasize experiences where you collaborated with colleagues from diverse backgrounds or departments. Such instances showcase your ability to communicate effectively, collaborate, and adapt in a multidisciplinary environment, highlighting your proficiency in both soft and technical skills.

Practical application: If you worked on a cross-functional team to implement a new water filtration system, highlight your ability to collaborate with team members from different departments, showcasing both your technical contributions on the one hand and communication and teamwork skills on the other.

🔹 Quantify achievements: Whenever possible, quantify your achievements to provide tangible evidence of your capabilities. Whether it’s increasing team productivity by a certain percentage or reducing project turnaround time, quantifiable results lend credibility to your claims of possessing both technical and soft skills.

Practical application: If you optimized a process that resulted in a certain percentage increase in efficiency, quantify this improvement on your CV to demonstrate your technical prowess and ability to drive results.

What does a CV with a balanced skill ratio look like?

Here is an example of what “balance” could look like in a Project Manager’s resume.

Work Experience: International Project Manager, [Organization Name], [Dates]

Technical Contribution

  • Led a cross-functional team in the implementation of a solar-powered water pumping system in rural communities in [Country Name], reducing reliance on manual water retrieval methods.
  • Engineered and installed solar panels and water pumps, increasing water accessibility by 40% and providing clean water to over 2,000 households.
  • Implemented innovative irrigation techniques, resulting in a 50% increase in crop yields and improving food security for local communities.

Soft Skills Showcase

  • Fostered strong relationships with local community leaders and stakeholders, facilitating trust and collaboration throughout the project lifecycle.
  • Conducted community engagement sessions to ensure project alignment with local needs and cultural sensitivities, promoting inclusivity and social cohesion.
  • Coordinated with government agencies and non-profit organizations to leverage resources and maximize project impact, demonstrating diplomatic negotiation skills and effective stakeholder management.

Quantifiable Achievements 

  • Spearheaded a hygiene and sanitation awareness campaign, resulting in a 30% decrease in waterborne illnesses and improving overall public health outcomes in targeted communities.
  • Implemented a monitoring and evaluation system to track project progress and impact, achieving a 90% compliance rate with project milestones and delivering reports to stakeholders on schedule.
  • Secured $200,000 in additional funding through successful grant proposals, expanding project reach and sustainability initiatives.

🔹 Continuous Learning and Development: Demonstrate your commitment to personal and professional growth by including relevant training programs, qualifications or workshops on your CV. This not only underscores your technical proficiency but also reflects your proactive approach to enhancing your skill set, including soft skills such as adaptability and resilience. However, don’t put everything you have achieved down on paper. Candidates often have dozens of certifications which are not always relevant so one option is to simply indicate the overall number achieved.

Practical application: If you completed a widely recognized course on leadership development or attended a workshop on effective communication, include these experiences to showcase your dedication to developing both your technical and soft skills.

Final word

By implementing the techniques outlined above, you can craft a CV that effectively showcases your proficiency in both realms. Remember, striking the right balance is not just about listing skills, it’s about telling a compelling story of your capabilities and potential contributions to prospective employers. Maintaining this equilibrium may require effort and refinement, but the dividends in terms of career advancement and professional fulfilment are well worth it!

DevelopmentAid Recruitment Solutions team has vast experience in tailoring balanced CVs for a myriad of positions and professionals. Reach out to your dedicated Career advisor to opt for the wonderful CV Tailoring service we offer.