10 Interpersonal Skills for Your CV
No one gets much done at work without the participation and assistance of others. Our ability to make the most of our relationships with colleagues and partners is central to our continued success. We rely on a broad range of interpersonal skills to navigate complicated relationships, but how do we go about highlighting them on our CV?
When a hiring manager looks at a CV, picking out a candidate’s factual achievements is not so tricky. Discerning the behaviours that lie behind those achievements is far more difficult. No prospective employer can watch a fly-on-the-wall documentary about how each candidate behaves with those around them, so the CV should be explicit about their unique mix of people skills.
Of course, each role will require different interpersonal skills. The art of getting a job depends on telling a career story with the right blend of experiences that fit the future activity. Which interpersonal skills you share and how you share them will be the starting point for many an interview question. In this blog, we will explore:
- Why should you highlight interpersonal skills on a CV?
- Top 10 interpersonal skills with examples
- How is it best to share your interpersonal skills?
The most important consideration when sharing your interpersonal skills is to do so within an impressive context. Mad problem-solving skills only make an impact when they are focused on a business-critical issue. Empathy always matters, especially when a colleague or partner is experiencing a genuine crisis. Negotiation skills come to the fore when there is something significant to be gained or, indeed, lost.
Which interpersonal skills would you wish to share with your future boss?
Why should you highlight interpersonal skills on your CV?
The days of a factual and dry CV with zero personality are long gone. Employers can check you out on social media, read your posts and gain an insight into your character, so why hold back when it comes to your job application?
A CV sprinkled with hints of interpersonal skills and soft skills will make a future boss far more likely to warm to you. They know the sort of person that they want to hire for their team, so why keep them guessing until the interview? Your CV can share how you go about your working day as well as what you have achieved.
Top 10 interpersonal skills with examples
Everyone will have their own unique mix of interpersonal skills that they deploy during a working week. There is no right answer for any particular job, and you shouldn’t try to second guess what your future boss is looking for.
You should, however, ensure that you include most of the following skills in your CV in one guise or another. You don’t have to be explicit about mentioning the words themselves if the examples that you give are clear about what they required. If a skill is particularly important for a role, it does not hurt to point it out clearly as this shows that you understand its value.
Influencing skills need not be sinister. Most of the time other people don’t understand the nature of a common goal and simply need a nudge in the right direction. If you are one to look at problems through the eyes of those around you, it won’t be too tricky to tap into unrealised motivations.
Pick a career example where you have somehow achieved an impossible feat. Then mention how you managed to persuade a doubting colleague to help you achieve it. You don’t need to tell the whole story in your CV — awaken a hiring manager’s curiosity.
Empathy is almost impossible to showcase on a CV, but the mere presence of the word in conjunction with a situation where it was obviously required is enough to get a hiring manager’s imagination firing. They want to hire someone who will look through the eyes of others before they act. Does that sound like you?
Empathy is far easier to display during an interview. When you talk about how you achieved things with others, make sure to include their perspectives and use the word “we” as much as possible. Self-obsessed egotists need not apply.
There is nothing wrong with knowing what you want and knowing how to get it. There are some roles where almost every conversation entails some element of negotiation, so show off your wide range of negotiation experience by sharing several different examples where your powers of persuasion have made a difference.
Don’t forget that negotiation is not all about financial gain. Taking the time to negotiate the minutiae of a deal can bring all sorts of other benefits. You can save time and energy as well as money. Take what matters most and give away what matters least.
There are some achievements that would be impossible without an intense focus on listening to what really matters to other people. Your hiring manager will have worked with plenty of people who hear what they want to hear rather than what has been said.
If you mention your ability to listen actively in your CV, your future boss will immediately expect a receptive and productive interview. There are few things hated more by managers than having to repeat themselves to employees and still wondering whether they get it.
There is a lot more to leadership than getting people to do what you need them to do. Many organisations are focused on hiring leaders who will be a fit for their company culture, so the more explicit you can be about your leadership approach in your CV, the better the chances will be of you securing a role that will be a good fit.
What does leadership mean to you and how have people benefited from your guidance in the past? If you are interested in developing your people, it is likely that you will have many success stories to tell. Hint at your management successes in your CV where you can.
Problem-solving in a corporate setting will always have impacts on others. You might sit alone at your desk and wonder which direction to take a project, but there will be someone in another department whose day will get better or worse because of it. Problem solving is at its most effective, however, when it is a group task.
How attached to your own ideas are you or are you open to incorporate the ideas of others as you move towards a solution? Share some of the biggest problems that you have encountered in your career in your CV. Interesting conversations at the interview will ensue.
Everyone is different, so not everyone is easy to work with. If you are honest, maybe you are not easy to work with sometimes, either. Being able to collaborate productively with a wide range of personalities for the common good forms the bedrock of a successful team.
Taking on large projects entails engaging with many stakeholders from multiple departments. Share an example in your CV of when collaboration helped you overcome a stubborn obstacle or achieve the impossible. Your future hiring manager knows that your true value lies in your contribution to the company as a whole, not just to them.
Are you someone to step into the middle of the argument and not only defuse the situation but build on opinions from all sides and help navigate towards a potential solution? Some people thrive on creating a shared purpose out of chaos. This involves a desire to understand the views of all concerned — the best mediators are empaths.
Conflict cannot be avoided in the workplace, and it is often encouraged as a forge of the best ideas. When a compromise is reached from brilliant minds, everyone wins. This is one of the most useful interpersonal skills for your team.
How well do you know yourself? If you find yourself in a certain situation, can you take a glimpse at yourself from the outside and predict how you would usually react? Then take a moment to ponder whether it is appropriate. Self-aware people know themselves so well that they can choose to act against their true nature when needed, rather than just reacting.
Every hiring manager wants to invite a potential new hire to interview and have a conversation with someone that knows themselves well enough to assess every aspect of their suitability. The depth of your CV will make it clear just how self-aware you are.
The ability to do a 180-degree turn and change your mind on an issue is often key to long-term success. Circumstances can change rapidly in many workplaces, so flexibility is often key to continual growth. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
You shouldn’t emphasise your flexibility on your CV too much though. If you are viewed as someone who changes their mind too easily, those around you will never know what to expect next. As with most things, balance and judgement are key.
How is it best to share interpersonal skills?
Interpersonal skills on a CV should most often be embedded within the work experience section. They are not quite valuable enough to take up space on the summary and not precise enough to replace the hard and technical skills in the dedicated skills section.
You might be content that they are implied in the context of what you have achieved, but for certain critical interpersonal skills it could be worth mentioning them specifically to grab attention. Certain skills such as conflict resolution and negotiation skills jump off the page as there must be a story that lies behind them. Mentioning that you are great at teamwork, on the other hand, is virtually meaningless as candidates mention it so much. Let your deeds speak for themselves on the teamwork front.
Interpersonal skills are a way of deploying your experiences alongside those of others around you. You will always be stronger as a collective if you work well together but getting the most out of each relationship is not always an easy task. These skills are not always easy to spot on a CV, so a candidate who has gone out of their way to highlight them is obviously someone who has some stories to tell.
- Decide which interpersonal skills are most important for the position.
- Share examples where they played a key role — be explicit about their impact.
- Do not exaggerate your skills — you will be expected to discuss them at interview.
- Describing your skillset is a way of communicating your personality. Be mindful.