Career Fortitude



In the constantly evolving landscape of the professional world, the significance of soft skills has grown exponentially.  These skills are absolutely indispensable in today’s workplace and promote collaboration, ingenuity, and productivity. Traditionally, hard skills such as technical expertise and knowledge were considered the primary factors for professional success. However, as workplaces become more collaborative and dynamic, employers increasingly recognize the pivotal role soft skills play in fostering a positive work environment and driving overall success.  Soft skills, encompassing communication, empathy, adaptability, teamwork, and emotional intelligence, are proving to be the secret sauce for personal and organizational triumph.

Think about the jobs you’ve had and consider the differences in company culture, engagement, and development opportunities.  How do the previous experiences stack up when it comes to the overall organization’s performance in these areas?  If you’ve had 3 or more jobs in your life, it’s easy to identify the differences and determine how your level of satisfaction in the job is determined.  Think about the soft skills your previous leaders did or didn’t possess.  How did these differences in leadership and company culture impact your feelings of belonging and respect?

Find an Organization You’re Proud of

Companies and leaders that I have worked for that consistently focus on empathy, emotional intelligence, and inclusivity stand out and make it a part of the company description when people ask me, “How is it working for _____?”.  Whenever I’m asked this question I default to reflecting on what the job provided to me and how the job made me feel instead of what the company actually provided.  “My leader cares about me as an individual and my company encourages me to grow through development opportunities” paints a much different picture than “My leader doesn’t respect my opinions and there are no growth opportunities available within the organization”.  I think this personal thought process is most people’s reaction as well, even though that might not be how everyone responds to the question.

It’s great to work for a successful and popular brand, but does it carry the same pride in the work if the environment isn’t fulfilling to us; the workers?  I want to tell people the company I work for is focused on ensuring soft skills are at the forefront of the brand.  I want to be proud of the organization’s dedication to growth and empathy.  Don’t we all want to share with others that not only is our work challenging but the environment in which we perform fosters emotional intelligence and growth?

Utilize the Soft Skills You Already Possess

One of the primary reasons soft skills are gaining precedence is the increasing emphasis on collaboration in the modern workplace. In an era where cross-functional teams and diverse working groups are the norm, the ability to communicate effectively and collaborate seamlessly is paramount. Soft skills like active listening and effective communication contribute to a positive team dynamic, fostering innovation and problem-solving.  Moreover, the rapid pace of technological advancements has resulted in automation and artificial intelligence taking over routine tasks. As a result, the human element of work has become more critical, emphasizing the need for soft skills. Machines may excel at data analysis and repetitive tasks, but they lack emotional intelligence, creativity, and the ability to navigate complex human interactions. Employees with strong soft skills become indispensable in bridging this gap, contributing to areas where machines fall short.

Emotional intelligence, a key component of soft skills, is particularly vital in today’s workplace. Employees who can understand and manage their emotions, as well as empathize with others, contribute to a healthier and more productive work environment. Emotional intelligence allows individuals to navigate conflicts, build strong interpersonal relationships, and adapt to change. In turn, organizations benefit from improved teamwork, reduced turnover, and increased employee well-being.

Showcasing Soft Skills During Your Job Search

For those looking for a job or new career direction, the old thoughts around traditional skills on a resume can lead to feeling unqualified.  Traditionally, expertise in a specific topic or knowledge in a particular field was key to getting your foot in the door.  As professionals grow and develop new skills, it’s the soft skills that start to overshadow the technical knowledge and experience.  As organizations lean into hiring workers with strong soft skills, the lack of technical knowledge and education starts to carry less weight in the hiring process.  I’m not saying I could get a job engineering rockets based solely on my soft skills, but looking at roles that have similar focuses on collaboration and creativity starts to show us that the line begins to blur.

I have coached multiple people who are entering a job market with little to no experience in the roles they are applying for.  Common statements come up in coaching sessions; “I want to interview for this job but I haven’t directly held the job title before.”, “The job posting lists minimum experience levels on specific technical skills to be considered, and I don’t quite meet the requirements.”, or “How do I use my resume and cover letter to convey I’m capable of performing well at a role I haven’t held before?”.  Although not all organizations are ready to shake off the traditional hiring methods, there are plenty of organizations embracing the importance of soft skills.  The organizations progressing forward are the ones who will give the candidates who are asking these questions a longer look instead of immediately skipping over their resumes.

As the importance of soft skills continues to grow, employers are placing greater emphasis on incorporating them into recruitment and training processes. Job descriptions now often include a focus on interpersonal skills, and interviews may assess a candidate’s ability to communicate effectively, collaborate, and adapt to change. Training programs are also shifting to include modules that develop and enhance soft skills, recognizing their role in career advancement and organizational success.

While that all sounds great for those looking to focus their professional brand on their soft skills, successfully conveying these attributes when networking and moving through the hiring process means taking a less-than-traditional approach.  When updating your resume and writing a cover letter we’re told to use keywords from the job description and showcase metrics you’ve achieved in your previous work.  These are good foundational focuses, but it’s important not to get hung up on the technical details of the work being performed.  If you’re applying for a role you know you probably don’t have as much technical knowledge as other candidates, you need to be strategic with how you promote yourself.

Soft Skills Overlap Across Industries and Roles

Think about two roles in your current or past organization.  One is a role you held and the other is a role you haven’t held but requires similar team, responsibility, and collaboration expectations.  Now remove all the technical details and lack of specific knowledge.  For the two roles just focus on the soft skills that overlap between them and you’ll most likely realize that there is quite a bit of overlap.  While the technical details might need to be gained through training, the soft skills that you’ve built during your career are transferable to many different opportunities.

There might be small nuanced differences from field to field, but soft skills carry over to a broad range of professional fields and roles.  If you’re looking for work, ready to try a new direction, and want to utilize your soft skills with an organization that values them, why not look past the typical boundaries of job searches?  This can open the door for not only more opportunities but higher quality opportunities that can lead to greater career fulfillment.

By strategically integrating soft skills into your resume, cover letter, and interview responses, you present yourself as a well-rounded candidate with the interpersonal abilities crucial for success in today’s dynamic work environments.  Below are a few tips to use when updating your resume and writing a cover letter.


  1. Strategic Keyword Placement:  Incorporate relevant soft skills strategically throughout your resume. Use keywords that align with the job description, such as “effective communicator,” “collaborative team player,” or “adaptable problem solver.”
  1. Highlight Achievements:  Showcase achievements that demonstrate your soft skills. For instance, if you led a successful team project, emphasize your leadership and teamwork abilities.
  1. Quantify Impact:  Quantify the impact of your soft skills whenever possible. If your effective communication led to improved client satisfaction, mention specific percentages or metrics.

Cover Letter:

  1. Tailor to the Job Description:  Align your soft skills with the requirements of the job. Reference the company’s values and goals, explaining how your soft skills make you an ideal fit for their culture.
  1. Express Enthusiasm:  Convey genuine enthusiasm for the position and the company. Express how your soft skills will contribute to a positive and productive work environment.


Philip Hilt

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