13 Essential Interpersonal Skills to Add Your Resume

By Christine Ascher on June 19, 2018

When applying for jobs, your resume is essential. It’s your first opportunity to make a good impression on a recruiter, and will decide whether or not they invite you to interview. For this reason, your resume should be in top form before you start sending it out. One useful category to consider when creating your resume is your interpersonal skills. In addition to your experience, education, and technological skills, your interpersonal skills will help set you apart from other applicants and can help you show a recruiter why you would be a good match for a certain position.

When working on your resume, think about a few interpersonal skills that you possess and that you feel are relevant to the company or the specific position that you’re applying for. Then, hopefully, you’ll have a chance to explain them in more detail in an interview. To get you started, here are some ideas for important interpersonal skills that will help you get that job.

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1. Verbal Communication

In almost any job, communication will be an essential interpersonal skill. Whether you’ll be communicating with clients, working with a team of your co-workers, or having frequent discussions with your boss, being able to communicate respectfully and effectively will be key. Try to somehow include your communication skills on your resume, and think about some examples of your effective communication that you can either put on your resume to back up your claim, or that you can bring up during an interview. For instance, if you’ve recently completed a group project for a class that required a lot of back-and-forth with your group members, that would be a great way to show your potential employers that you will be able to communicate well once you’re working for their company.

2. Listening

The ability to listen is an important facet of communication that you may want to highlight individually on your resume. In addition to communicating your ideas in a way that others will understand, you should also be able to listen to the thoughts and concerns of your boss and co-workers, and to respond to them properly. A recruiter will want to see that you understand the importance of listening in developing good work relationships, and your listening skills will show them that you’ll be able to understand feedback as you’re training for the position. In addition, if you’re going to be working with clients, your listening skills will be crucial. As you’ll need to be able to listen to your clients’ needs and concerns in order to respond properly to them, this is one interpersonal skill that you should definitely try to highlight on your resume if possible.

3. Non-Verbal Communication

Just as verbal communication can help you succeed in the workplace, non-verbal communication can help you make a good impression on your boss and co-workers, along with highlighting your good attitude and professionalism. Having good non-verbal communication skills means that you present yourself well to others–for instance by making appropriate eye contact, having good posture, and controlling your facial expressions. Especially if the job that you’re applying for involves meeting with clients, non-verbal communication is going to be an important interpersonal skill for you to possess. As your non-verbal communication skills will be put to the test if you’re invited to interview, make sure that you truly feel that this skill helps you stand out before putting it on your resume.

Infographic by Christine Ascher

4. The Ability to Mediate Conflict

Conflict on some scale is common in the workplace, especially if you’ll be working in a setting that focuses on teamwork, so knowing how to handle conflict and to resolve it with minimal disruption to your work is a great interpersonal skill to have. Being able to handle conflict will make you a great asset to any company, as in addition to helping others work out any issues between them if necessary, it also suggests that you’ll be able to handle problems that arise between you and your co-workers independently, rather than needing another person to step in.

According to Alison Doyle, writer for The Balance Careers, being able to mediate conflict will be especially helpful if you’re applying for a job in an area like human resources. If you include this interpersonal skill on your resume, make sure that you have some specific examples in mind to back it up, as this will show a recruiter that you’re not just telling them what they want to hear. If you were a resident advisor in a college dorm or if you’ve mediated a conflict between group members for a class project, for instance, these are great examples to bring up.

5. Receptiveness to Constructive Criticism

Especially when starting a new job with a new company, you may find yourself receiving a lot of constructive criticism. Rather than reacting negatively, by taking the criticism personally or ignoring it altogether, you should be able to respond to it by changing your actions appropriately. Being able to do so will make you far more valuable to a company, as you’ll then be able to adjust to their way of working and to complete tasks to their satisfaction.

Especially when applying for an entry-level job, which will probably require a lot of training, you may want to highlight on your resume the fact that you can respond to constructive criticism. This will show recruiters that you’re eager to learn and to do well in a position.

6. Negotiating

In certain fields, such as sales, the ability to negotiate will be essential for success. Many students applying for internships or entry-level jobs will not be strong in negotiating, so if you already consider yourself a skilled negotiator, that is definitely an interpersonal skill that you should put down on your resume.

Recruiters will appreciate that you have one less thing to learn should you be hired, and the possession of this skill will help set you apart from other applicants. As with any interpersonal skill, you should be able to back up your claim with some concrete examples.

7. Empathy

Particularly when applying for a position that requires dealing with clients, it will be important for you to be empathetic towards others. The ability to understand what others are dealing with and to sympathize with their problems and concerns will make you a better employee, as you’ll likely be more motivated to work hard to help others. This is a great interpersonal skill to put on your resume, as it will give potential employers an idea about your personal motivations—for instance, it will show them that you’re not driven entirely by the hope of personal gain—and will help set you apart from other applicants who don’t recognize the importance of empathy in certain positions.

Judith Ohikuare, writer for Refinery29, points out that empathy will be especially important if you’re applying for service careers, so keep that in mind depending on the jobs that you’re interested in. In addition, being an empathetic person will help you form relationships with your co-workers, and will probably make you a good person to work with—a factor that will definitely be taken into consideration when you’re being considered for a position.

8. Lively Speaker

Even when looking for internships or entry-level positions, being able to speak well in group settings is a great skill to have. Many people have trouble with public speaking, so if this is a skill that you feel confident in and that you know is relevant to the position you’re applying for, it should definitely go on your resume.

Employers will love to see that you’re comfortable speaking in front of people, especially if you’re a dynamic and inspiring speaker. If you can, think of some of the favorite speeches that you’ve given, or a time when you felt you inspired your peers through your speaking, as this will definitely impress a recruiter. Even if you won’t necessarily be speaking in large-group settings for the job, just having the ability to interest and inspire others will go a long way.

9. Problem-Solving

Regardless of the job that you’re applying for, you’ll need to possess problem-solving skills in order to succeed. In any position, you’ll face a variety of dilemmas over time, and it’s important to show a recruiter that you’re well-equipped to deal with them when submitting your resume for a job. Being able to both come up with solutions to problems that arise and to implement them will make you a valuable asset to any company, so if you feel that you have good reason to back up your problem-solving skills, make sure you include them on your resume.

10. Teamwork

Being able to work well in a team is an important interpersonal skill for many jobs, so if you have a lot of positive experience working in a group setting, putting that on your resume can give you a big advantage. Working in a team requires being responsible, reliable, and open to compromise, which will prove to be important characteristics to possess in order to do well in any position. In addition, being able to effectively communicate your ideas and listen to those of others will be important anytime that you’re working in a team. If you feel that your ability to work well in a team will help you stand out from other candidates, make sure you include this interpersonal skill on your resume.

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11. Reliability

When you start working for a company, their success becomes tied to your ability to complete your work well and in a timely manner. Your boss and co-workers will need to feel like they can count on you to carry your weight, as they’ll be negatively affected if you start slacking off. It’s a good idea to stress your reliability when applying for a job, as that will definitely help show a recruiter that you would make a good employee.

A good way to prove your reliability is by referencing your prior work or internship experience. Regardless of the positions that you previously occupied, if you always completed tasks on time and were available when you were needed, that will show a potential employer that, should they hire you, they’ll be able to count on you. Include this interpersonal skill on your resume if it can be backed up by previous employers or co-workers should they serve as a reference.

12. Flexibility

Flexibility is a great interpersonal skill to add to your resume. Whenever you’re working with others, you’ll need to be flexible and compromise from time to time in order to work well with them. In addition, if you’re applying for a position that will require juggling a lot of different tasks, highlighting your flexibility will show a recruiter that you’re capable of handling a large volume of work. Whenever you have a variety of tasks to get done, you’ll need to be okay with altering your schedule or changing up the way that you complete them in order to get everything done on time. Depending on the job that you’re applying for, the ability to be flexible can definitely help you stand out from the other applicants.

13. Time Management

Demonstrating your ability to manage your time independently is a great way to set yourself apart when applying for a job. Especially if you’re going to be working independently a good deal of the time, a potential employer will need to know that you’re responsible and capable of completing all of your work within a reasonable time frame. Knowing that you can properly schedule your time and that you don’t procrastinate will definitely give a recruiter an incentive to hire you, so it’s worth putting on your resume. Make sure you back it up with some unique examples; for instance, if you’ve taken extra classes and performed well in them, or if you’ve been in a position that required you to meet a lot of tight deadlines, that would be great to mention.

Applying for jobs in itself is a lot of work, and in a competitive job market, it can sometimes be difficult to even get an interview. Any way that you can set yourself apart from other job applicants will come in handy, and one great option is to reflect on the interpersonal skills that you feel make you unique as a candidate. Avoid sounding clichéd by noting down only those skills that you truly excel in and by providing strong examples to back yourself up. Once you do that, you’ll be one step closer to landing your dream job.

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