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01 Sep 2021 Austin Belcak

The Top 9 Interpersonal Skills That Employers Are Looking For

You might be tempted to see interpersonal skills as less valuable than technical skills. But you shouldn’t!

Interpersonal skills are integral to succeeding in any industry. And, often, they’re the difference between the employee who’s just good at their job and the employee that’s good at their job AND has the potential for promotions, salary raises, and a whole lot more.

And because I know you’re always looking for ways to advance your career, in this post, I’m going to show you:

  • How to put interpersonal skills on a resume
  • 9 of the top interpersonal skills for workplace success
  • Tips on how to improve interpersonal skills

But before we get into all that, it’s important we start with an understanding of exactly what type of skills we’re talking about and why they’re so important.

What Are Interpersonal Skills?

Interpersonal skills are the skills you use to professionally and effectively interact with others at work. For example, these are the skills you use for effective communication like active listening, negotiation, and empathy.

Typically, these types of skills are referred to as soft skills. But that doesn’t make them less important than hard skills!

Why Are They Important?

Employees with strong interpersonal skills are essential to any company that wants to maximize efficiency and employee engagement.

According to Dynamic Signal’s 2019 State of Employee Communication and Engagement Study, 80% of US workers reported ineffective communication as a source of significant workplace stress.

How do ineffective communication skills contribute to stress at work? Just think about it. Even if your team members are good at their job, would you really enjoy working with them if they never listened to you, never greeted you with a smile, and didn’t express empathy at work when you’re going through a hard time? Probably not!

In fact, you’d probably describe that as a toxic workplace environment. Many hiring managers would too, which is why I want to now show you how to add these skills to your resume.

Adding Interpersonal Skills To Your Resume

If you’re in a profession that values and screens candidates for proficiency in technical skills, you may not want to list your interpersonal skills in your resume skills section. But you can showcase these skills in your resume bullet points!

Here’s how. Let’s say you want to highlight your written communication and negotiation skills. Well, then you could say something like “drafted regional sales proposals that led to a 20% increase in quarterly revenue”.

Or, if you want to show off your problem-solving skills, you could write “successfully resolved a customer complaint that had the potential to go viral, resulting in a 5% increase in customer satisfaction scores”.

See how that works? By using concrete examples, you’re not only able to showcase your interpersonal skills, but you’re also able to demonstrate the positive impact those skills had on your company.

The key is to focus on what the skill helped you achieve with measurable results just as you would when writing any of your other resume bullet points.

Top 9 Interpersonal Skills That Employers Value

Which interpersonal skills will have the biggest impact on your career? Start by improving the following 8 skills:

#1: Active Listening

You and your coworkers want to feel like your thoughts and opinions are important. Active listening involves listening attentively, checking for understanding, and withholding judgment or interjections.

How to improve: Practice paraphrasing, ask follow up questions, and avoid changing the subject the next time you have a chat with a colleague.

#2: Teamwork

There are few jobs these days where you get to work independently all the time. So, improving your collaboration, adaptability, and leadership skills will always be worth the effort.

How to improve: Go out of your way to help coworkers with small tasks, volunteer for projects in and outside of work, and ask for regular feedback.

#3: Emotional Intelligence

Many companies have fast-paced environments that can, at times, be stressful. Having emotional intelligence means you know how to become aware of, control, and express your emotions in a way that’s appropriate for whatever environment you’re in. It also means knowing how to handle and respond to the emotions of others.

How to improve: Avoid reacting to stressful situations impulsively, develop stress reduction techniques, and think about what motivates your coworkers to perform their jobs well.

#4: Verbal and Written Communication

Knowing how to express yourself clearly and professionally is an important skill for success in any career path. Whether it be by email, video call, or an in-person presentation, your colleagues shouldn’t have to guess or ask a ton of questions to figure out what you mean.

How to improve: Practice thinking of potential follow up questions whenever you make a written or verbal request. For example, when asking a question like “are you available for a call at 10am?” follow that question immediately with something like, “if not, how about…”

#5: Non-Verbal Communication

Non-verbal communication refers to things like body language, eye contact, facial expressions, gestures, personal space, and posture. Although you’re not saying anything, people read your non-verbal communication to evaluate qualities like confidence, respect, and understanding.

How to improve: Practice maintaining eye contact while others are speaking, ask questions to clarify the non-verbal communication of others, and use appropriate hand gestures when communicating your ideas.

#6: Reliability

Your team members want to be able to count on you to do things like ask questions when you need more information, do your work to the best of your ability, and meet important deadlines. Without that, it’s hard to form the trust needed for everyone to perform at their best.

How to improve: Ask follow up questions whenever you’re unsure, provide regular updates on your progress, and give advance warning if you expect to miss a deadline.

#7: Empathy

Without empathy, it’s hard to get your coworkers to trust you. Everyone wants to feel like their thoughts and emotions are taken seriously. This is why empathy is also one of the top skills of effective leaders.

How to improve: Encourage your team members to share their opinions, learn to recognize bias, and consider how you might feel about a project’s demands if you were in the role of another coworker.

#8: Negotiation

Negotiation isn’t just important when doing things like asking for a raise or promotion. It’s also important for everyday tasks like making requests, scheduling meetings, and getting help from your colleagues.

How to improve: Prepare for follow up questions when making requests, attempt to understand others’ motives for saying no to a request, look for ways to compromise and still get close to what you want.

#9: Problem Solving

The ability to find creative solutions to problems is an important skill in any career. After all, every company has problems that need to be solved on a daily basis.

How to improve: Brainstorm solutions to small tasks, volunteer for projects in and outside of work, and ask for regular feedback.

Final Thoughts

Interpersonal skills are some of the most valuable and transferable skills you can have. So, remember to practice and improve them at work using the tips in this post.

Specifically, employers will find it valuable if you are skilled in:

  • Active listening
  • Teamwork
  • Emotional Intellegince
  • Verbal and written communication
  • Non-verbal communication
  • Reliability
  • Empathy
  • Negotiation
  • Problem Solving

And, if you’re job searching, remember to also highlight them when writing your resume and preparing for interviews!

Austin Belcak

Austin is the founder of Cultivated Culture where he helps people land jobs without connections, without traditional experience, and without applying online. His strategies have been featured in Forbes, Business Insider, & Fast Company and has helped people just like you land jobs at Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Twitter, & more.

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