We've evolved! Fingerprint for Success is now Marlee.

Boost your resume: 4 Ways to highlight interpersonal skills

Interpersonal skills are critical for resumes in any industry, as every job involves working with others. According to LinkedIn,1 communication will be the most sought-after skill in 2024, especially given the rise of remote work. Generation Z, Millennials, and career changers must improve their interpersonal skills to stay ahead. Failing to showcase these skills on your resume and LinkedIn profile can hinder your job search success. Learn how to highlight your interpersonal skills and leave a lasting impression.

Author
Lily Yuan

Why are interpersonal skills essential?

In the bustling business world, it's more than just about what you know—it's also about how well you can connect with others, especially in challenging situations. Interpersonal skills, often called people skills, are the glue that holds teams together and fosters a positive work environment. 

Margaret Buj, career and interview coach, suggests that individuals who inspire, motivate, and influence others are better positioned for more career advancement opportunities.

Why? They can navigate diverse perspectives, resolve conflicts constructively, overcome difficult situations, and foster a collaborative team environment where everyone can thrive. 

She continues, "When encountering a CV or resume without any proof of soft skills, such as quantifiable achievements or relevant examples, recruiters may find it challenging to assess the candidate's suitability for the role."

Lauren Hamer, a certified resume writer and career coach discusses the big three interpersonal skills: effective communication, teamwork, and leadership. Less talked-about skills include listening, conflict resolution skills, common sense, and empathy, which all fall under the umbrella of emotional intelligence (EI). 

Margaret goes on to stress the importance of standing out: "If you have two technically strong candidates, but one of them is an excellent communicator, good at influencing and collaborating (and often good at self-promotion as well), that person is much more likely to get promoted."

AI is reshaping the hiring landscape, and it's time to hone in on your critical skills and keep them razor-sharp. Communication across various platforms (like project management applications and video conferencing) is vast.

Gen Z may find this particularly challenging, as they have had fewer opportunities to adjust to hybrid or remote work environments than previous generations. They have the technical skills to use the video call application or company Slack but might lack the social skills developed in an office environment. 

So, now that you know how essential interpersonal skills are, how can you best show them on your resume?

How to describe your interpersonal skills: 4 Examples

"You can demonstrate your communication and teamwork skills on your resume by including a project you handled with multiple team members or departments," says Lauren Hamer. 

For example, a research analyst could demonstrate verbal communication skills by explaining how they successfully gathered data, interpreted it, and shared it with the organization via a presentation (which includes the effective use of body language) to assist in making important decisions.

Let's take a closer look at four foolproof strategies to highlight your interpersonal skills on your resumes (with examples): 

1. Quantify your achievements

How much money did you save on a previous project? Did you work out a way to halve the time spent on an administrative task?

Margaret Buj underlines the importance of showing how your strong interpersonal skills have been applied to achieve results you can measure. Measurable results make a significant impact. Numbers and statistics will help your resume shine for recruiters and hiring managers.

Here are a few examples of how a marketing manager can quantify their achievements in reaching a common goal:

  • Manage a marketing budget of US$500,000 annually, consistently achieving an ROI of over 300% across various campaigns and channels. (This shows leadership and goal-setting.)
  • Implement marketing automation processes across the company, reducing manual workload by 30% and improving campaign efficiency by 40% ahead of schedule. (Here, we see teamwork and time management.)

2. Utilize assessment test results 

Both Margaret and Lauren say that soft skill assessment tools and personality tests can provide recruiters with insights into candidates' communication preferences and styles.

Right here at Marlee, you can answer questions about what motivates you, which links to our 48 motivational traits to help you understand your communication style.

Find out whether you prefer Neutral Communication, Affective Communication, Big-Picture Thinking or Attention to Detail, Sole Responsibility or Sharing Responsibility, and much more!

Marlee is backed by more than 20 years of evidence-based research

You can also ask Marlee, our collaboration and performance AI, for a list of your interpersonal strengths. Once you're aware of your strengths, you can highlight credible examples.

Ask Marlee, our AI coach

The Gallup StrengthsFinder and DISC assessments can show employers what communication and collaboration patterns they can expect from you on their team. 

Source: Marlee DISC assessment

"I’ve not used these tests in my recruitment roles, but we had Insights tests done during a team-building event at Expedia, and it was handy to understand different personality types within our team, how to work with them, and how to best engage them," says Margaret. 

  • DISC type CS (Conscientious-Stable) tells an employer you're detail-oriented, emotionally stable, and an empathetic listener. 
  • Top 5 CliftonStrengths: Adaptability, Harmony, Communication, Learner, Belief; shows you're an optimistic team player with a hunger to grow.

Including information that reflects your DISC type in your resume can demonstrate how you prefer to communicate with colleagues and resolve issues, which are critical interpersonal skills. For instance, the I (Inspiring or Influential) type focuses on building positive, strong relationships with other members of an organization. 

Your CliftonStrengths are more straightforward and can be reflected in bolded key phrases that highlight a certain strength (in brackets). For example, a Product Designer or Graphic Designer could write Taught working proficiency level Autodesk Inventor and SolidWorks to trainees within 6 months (Communication, Responsibility).

3. Give specific examples of interpersonal skills

Recruiters sometimes purposefully word questions to extract soft skills from your answers. For example, "Describe a situation where you went above and beyond to meet a client's needs."

Here, you could showcase how your dedicated skills allowed you to build a professional relationship, understand their specific requirements, and deliver a solution. Perhaps you were responsible for managing relationships with key clients or partners.

"Ideally, on a resume, you’ll want to include relevant soft skills in context. Rather than listing soft skills in isolation, integrate them into the descriptions of your work experience to provide context and relevance," says coach Margaret.

  • Negotiation skills include advocating for yourself and your ideas, working as a team, reaching a compromise, and remaining calm under pressure. Building strong relationships and collaborating effectively with diverse teams is a crucial skill for success in the workplace.
  • Emotional intelligence, or empathy skills, is the awareness of our own and others’ emotions. You might describe a situation where your team was feeling discouraged or uninspired and how you could use your relationship management skills to motivate them by recognizing their achievements with positive reinforcement. Or, maybe you've actively collaborated with multiple cross-functional teams to exceed targets, calmly resolve conflicts, and beat tight deadlines to release a new product to market.
  • Active listening skills involve genuinely understanding what's being said and are vital for collaboration and problem-solving. You may better understand a client's needs and provide a tailored solution through active listening. This crucial skill is essential in customer service, for example.
  • Collaboration skills: have you been assigned a project with a new team and actively listened to your teammates' strengths and preferred working styles? Then, you have collaboration skills.
  • Delegation: could you delegate tasks effectively, give constructive feedback, and ensure a smooth workflow? You can include this in your examples of leadership skills.

4. Use powerful action verbs

Verb choice has always been important in English classes, and resume writing or creating your LinkedIn job description is no exception. An example of a great bullet point can look like:

  • Drove a new project management system ahead of schedule, which reduced turnaround times by a record 20% and improved collaboration and productivity among our team.

The art of negotiating involves reaching a compromise and working under pressure. Have you negotiated project deadlines with stakeholders while ensuring quality and team satisfaction? What about agreeing a price with external vendors to get the best value for your company's budget?

To recap, four strategies you can use to effectively demonstrate your interpersonal skills on your resume or LinkedIn profile are:

  • Quantifying your achievements
  • Showcasing your assessment results
  • Including specific examples
  • Selecting powerful action verbs

Unlock the power of storytelling

Your resume is your one (and often only) chance to make a stellar first impression. Humans are wired to share stories2 for connection, and you can certainly do so through your resume.

Before you even think about typing "Once upon a time, a job seeker..." try to paint a picture through powerful, descriptive verbs. 

Margaret says, "In my experience working with clients and in recruitment, the most effective way I've seen storytelling incorporated into resumes is through the use of the CAR (Challenge-Action-Result) or STAR (Situation-Task-Action-Result) method.

This approach involves structuring bullet points or sections on the resume to succinctly outline a specific challenge or problem faced, the actions taken to address it, and the results achieved due to those actions."

A good rule of thumb is to step into the recruiter's shoes. Take them on a journey. Really take the time to reflect and ask yourself, "If I wanted to hire someone for this role, what would I be looking for?" 

Chuck, a senior graphic designer, shows off his digital chops in his comic resume:

What better way to express your creativity than through a resume specially formatted for your industry? If you aim to snag a graphic design job, you'd be hard-pressed to find an agency rejecting a visually appealing resume that illustrates your nonverbal communication skills. If you're an aspiring copywriter, you can format your cover letter to resemble a well-written ad with a captivating hook and a call to action. 

Feeling unmotivated?

Find out how to unlock your motivation.

Showcase your soft skills in unexpected ways

While traditional methods such as resumes and cover letters remain vital, finding unexpected avenues to demonstrate your expertise can help you stand out in the competitive job market. Whether through volunteering experiences, personal projects, or even hobbies—these unconventional channels offer unique opportunities to exhibit traits such as communication, adaptability, and creative thinking.

Margaret suggests any combination of a video reel showing off your presentation skills, interactive portfolio, and social media presence to flaunt your soft skills. On LinkedIn, for example, she encourages job seekers to share articles and participate in discussions to showcase thought leadership. 

"Resumes that simply list job duties and responsibilities without providing context or demonstrating the candidate's impact are generally seen as uninspiring and less compelling," she warns. 

Lauren wants to know, most importantly, if she can work well with a candidate and have them integrate well with her team. Interviewees who can stay adaptable, communicate, and interact well, remotely or even in a hybrid setting, are more likely to succeed in the workplace.

Before incorporating those fancy social acrobatics in your application, Lauren has a few thoughts to share. 

"Unless your industry values digital resumes and social media—such as creatives and entertainers—I urge job seekers to refrain from including video resumes and social media links in their job applications. Instead, I suggest job seekers learn to communicate virtually by writing professional emails and acting appropriately on video calls."

Let's look at a super interesting case study from up-and-coming 21-year-old video director Nilladriz.

He carved his way to success by posting music videos he directed from scratch on YouTube and found his supporters there!

Pippa Wright, super mom with ADHD turned marketing manager, shares her inspiring story on LinkedIn. She's spent years as a parenting blogger before stumbling upon the exciting world of social media. Through her anything-but-linear journey filled with trial and error, she created a path to adapt to the ever-changing landscapes of digital marketing. 

Are you a designer? Visit Canva's Visual Suite for a seamless, easy design experience.

Tailor your approach for success

"Most people default to listing soft skills in the skills or competencies section of their resume, but it's actually more effective to demonstrate them in your work experience bullet points and accomplishments," says Lauren. 

Tailor your resume and profile to each position. Identify relevant skills from the job description and use strong action verbs to describe how you've applied them.

For example, if you're applying for a sales position, you'll want to emphasize measurable career achievements demonstrating your influencing skills, such as securing leads and closing customer deals.

In contrast, a resume for a copywriting position would focus on different interpersonal skills. Copywriters must collaborate closely with art directors, account managers, and graphic designers, often going through multiple rounds of revision.

To succeed in this role, they must foster positive relationships with colleagues, practice active listening and negotiation skills, and occasionally mediate conflicts. Highlighting these interpersonal skills on a copywriting resume will demonstrate your ability to work effectively in a creative team environment.

Do more than the bare minimum of simply listing skills—tell a story

Brian David Gilbert decided to showcase his video editing and directing chops when he applied for his dream position at Polygon, an American media company covering pop culture and video games. 

this video got me a job

It's not uncommon to hear stories these days of people sending out hundreds of resumes and job applications only to be met with a wall of silence. This can feel incredibly frustrating, especially if you do not receive any feedback from the team responsible for recruiting at the companies you are applying to.

"Struggling to secure interviews despite submitting numerous applications can be disheartening, but there are proactive steps individuals can take to improve their chances," says Margaret. "As a recruiter, I often find that candidates who have applied to hundreds of roles may not be effectively (or at all) tailoring their resumes to specific positions or companies. It's essential to customize each application to match the requirements and keywords of the job description, highlighting relevant skills and experiences."

She also states that it's best to focus on applying for positions where you meet most of the qualifications and can genuinely add value.

Another tactic you can use is conducting informational interviews with professionals in your target industries or companies to gain insights and then build relationships that may lead to referrals or hidden job opportunities. 

Your interpersonal skills journey begins now

Interpersonal skills are a branch of soft skills, and every job requires them to different degrees. From negotiating a business deal to breaking down confusing industry jargon to plain English for stakeholders, you can learn them with practice. 

"Reach out to professionals in your desired industry or role for an informational interview," encourages Margaret. 

Career success looks different for everyone. Maybe a mentor will refer you to your dream job. Or perhaps you'll stumble upon an opening from an alumni. The future of work belongs to those who embrace continuous learning. 

When you refine your resume for interpersonal skills, think of it as crafting a compelling narrative—a career story. Begin by weaving stats and figures to back up your claims. Next, infuse your experience with dynamic action verbs to captivate hiring managers.

Consider exploring creative avenues to present yourself if your industry calls for it—think media or the arts. Lastly, remember to align your resume to the job postings each time you apply and emphasize only what's relevant. 

Margaret rounds out her advice: "Ultimately, taking a strategic and proactive approach while ensuring your applications are tailored and targeted can greatly enhance your chances of securing interviews and landing your dream role."

So, you now know the drill—adapt, innovate, and collaborate. Embrace each step through the journey. Experiment and figure out what works for you, and always stay open to new opportunities. 

Frequently asked questions

What are the best strategies for developing interpersonal skills?

You can take steps such as trying to see the best in people and learning to control your emotions. Take a breath instead of reacting. Learn to value other people's experiences and opinions and value having access to their expertise. Also, try to practice empathy and consider how your colleagues feel. Spend time with your colleagues, have a coffee with them, and get to know them beyond work.

Where can you train for interpersonal skills? 

Wherever you are working with people! Take the opportunity to practice listening to others, practicing empathy, and appreciating their expertise on a certain topic. Otherwise, there are some online courses you can take that can help you learn all about interpersonal skills and how to use them practically.

With Marlee, you can answer questions on what motivates you and understand your interpersonal strengths and any blind spots. Our AI Coach, Marlee, will recommend personalized online coaching programs to help you achieve your personal or professional development goals!

Also, consider journaling for your personal goals or how we can help develop high-performing teams. Check out our popular online coaching programs. 

Are certain soft skills more important than others?

That can depend on the work context, role, and people you work with. For example, if your role is remote, you must learn soft communication skills online rather than face-to-face. If you work with vulnerable people, a combination of active listening, empathy, and emotional intelligence may be the most important skills you need.

What is your next step? Talk to people in your target industry to determine which interpersonal skills are essential in that area.

References

1. Linkedin. “LinkedIn 2023 Most In-Demand Skills: Learn the Skills Companies Need Most.” Www.linkedin.com, 20 Feb. 2023, www.linkedin.com/business/learning/blog/top-skills-and-courses/most-in-demand-skills.

2. “How Telling Stories Makes Us Human.” TIME, 5 Dec. 2017, time.com/5043166/storytelling-evolution. Accessed 6 Apr. 2024.

3. Hyder, Shama. “How Gen Z Is Rewriting the Rules: A Case Study with 20-Year-Old Director Nilladriz.” Forbes, www.forbes.com/sites/shamahyder/2020/07/30/how-gen-z-is-rewriting-the-rules-a-case-study-with-20-year-old-director-nilladriz/?sh=38f3b00c74ec. Accessed 6 Apr. 2024.

4. “The Accidental Hire: How I Landed My Dream Job (and Then Had to Figure out What to Do Next).” Www.linkedin.com, www.linkedin.com/pulse/accidental-hire-how-i-landed-my-dream-job-had-figure-out-pippa-wright. Accessed 6 Apr. 2024.

Bring out the best in everyone.

Create your Marlee account now to start chatting and find out about yourself and your team.