'Soft Skills' Reinforce Your Job Pitch

Last Updated Oct 28, 2010 1:36 PM EDT

The competitive employment market and rise of screening technology mean hiring managers are sizing you up with greater precision than ever before. From keywords to degrees to years of experience, your fit for the black-and-white requirements must be a near-perfect match if you're to be considered for any job to which you apply.

At the same time, however, don't overlook the importance of selling transferable "soft skills" like leadership, communications and business savvy when interviewing for a position.

These soft skills can be an asset to any senior professional, from sales to tech. In one example of career training on the soft-skills front, a new program at Penn State seeks to teach engineering students leadership through a study-abroad program. "It's not enough to just know how to do calculations anymore," said program director Richard Schuhmann. "There's more to being an engineer than science. You got to think about the full context."

In "A Hard Look at Soft Skills," TheLadders uses IT to illustrate the pervasive value of selling soft skills to your next employer:

Until recently, most businesses treated technology as part of the infrastructure: there to support the business, barely more important than the plumbing and electricity. But the advent of business applications has made technology a business driver, and business savvy is now a required skill for IT professionals.

"Business-analysis skills are critical to being able to understand the ultimate business objectives driving a technology initiative," said Sean Ebner, regional vice-president at Technisource, an IT staffing and solutions provider. "Having the ability to see the forest through the trees in an IT effort is extremely important, sought after and highly transferable."

  • Matthew TheLadders

    Matthew Rothenberg is editor-in-chief for TheLadders, the world's leading online service catering exclusively to the $100K+ job market. In addition to traditional job search services, TheLadders.com also provides a host of specialized career development resources. Previously he worked at Ziff Davis Media, ZDNet, CNET, and Hachette Filipacchi.