In an earlier era, social savvy and the ability to connect with others were considered “soft” skills by HR experts and hiring managers. These talents often took a back seat to “hard” skills, which included training relevant to a given position. By this definition, the ability to diagnose a problem with a broken machine would be considered “hard.” But the ability to explain the problem to someone else and give clear instructions on how to fix it would be considered “soft.”
Producing high sales numbers would be “hard.” But demonstrating charm, generating trust, displaying comprehensive product knowledge, and forming a connection with clients (all essential to the sales process) would be considered “soft.”
If you recognize a problem with this logic, so do we. And hiring managers across almost all industries have come to recognize it as well. At this point, the arbitrary distinction between hard and soft skills has been eighty-sixed, and most hiring experts have actually come full circle on the perceived value of one versus the other. Smart companies now choose attitude (the ability to get along with others and adapt to the culture) over aptitude (job-specific training) 10 times out of 10. And in the meantime, managers have learned that job skills can be taught…but people skills can’t.
So if you’re launching into the job search process, how can you shine a spotlight on the people skills and social flexibility that most employers are looking for? These cover letter moves can help.
1. Show that you “get it.”
Everything we just explained in the paragraphs above? You get it. And as for social savvy and cultural adaptability, you’ve got it. Explain that you recognize the value of the customer experience, and you know that human relationships lie at the heart of every metric of business success. Impressions matter, and small gestures and details can have an enormous impact on a company’s reputation, its brand strength, and its future.
2. Highlight your customer service experience.
If you’ve ever worked in a customer service position (which can include tech support, complaints, sales, reception, food service, or retail) make this clear in your resume, and give it a specific mention in your cover letter. Briefly explain what this experience taught you about the human side of customer and client relationship building.
3. Highlight your cultural alignment.
Research the company before you write your letter, and learn everything you can about the culture of this specific workplace. Are these employees known for their relentless drive? For their brilliant innovations? For their fun approach to life? For their collaborative accomplishments and inspiring sense of teamwork? If you can detect a specific vibe and you feel that your own personality is a perfect match, explain how you’ll fit right in.
4. Highlight your cultural adaptability.
If you detect a certain workplace vibe and you don’t, in fact, have much evidence to prove that you’re perfect match, that’s okay. Just explain that you’re ready to adapt to the status quo, and that you place learning, growth, and flexibility ahead of your own ego. This office may be staffed with surfers and outdoorsy types, and you may never have seen the ocean. But you know how to find common ground with anyone, and you’re great at turning strangers into friends.
Use Your Cover Letter to Make a Connection
Visit LiveCareer for more cover letter tips and application building resources that can help you leverage your social skills and use your positive attitude to land a perfect job offer.