GTRI soft skills

Demonstrate Soft Skills to Land Your Job or Internship!

What do you think it takes to land your dream job? Good grades? A glowing reference? Powerful connections?

If you listed any of the above, you’d be correct. But you’d be forgetting one very important skill. A skill that is overlooked by many, but never by employers: mastery of soft skills.

Your Emotional Intelligence

You may have heard of the term “I.Q” before, used as a measurement for intelligence. But a different measurement, for a different kind of intelligence, is just as important to your success as brain power.

Emotional intelligence, or EQ, refers to your ability to form relationships, with yourself and with others. Emotional intelligence is responsible for your personal characteristics, known as soft skills, which define your value as an employee.

Examples of Soft Skills

Whenever you make it to an appointment on time, you’re demonstrating a soft skill. While NASA won’t contact you just for that, chances are you already have a healthy amount of emotional intelligence.

Soft skills can be broken up into different categories. According to studies, the seven most important soft skills employers look for are as follows:

1. A great work ethic
2. A positive attitude
3. Strong communication skills
4. Time management skills
5. Problem-solving abilities
6. Team-work
7. Confidence

Demonstrating Soft Skills

Great grades can be included in your resume easily. So too can work experience, mastery of the piano and the ability to speak another language.

Soft skills are a little more difficult to demonstrate. After all, it’s easy to say you possess one. How do you prove it? And how do you prove it in a natural way?

For example, consider the following personal statement: “I’m a moral individual who won’t steal your things. I like working in teams so I have somebody to chat to about baseball. I can problem-solve almost any quandary. Just last week I managed to figure out why my WI-FI wasn’t working, thus saving the repair guy a trip. Though, that wasn’t a big deal, as I like talking to people. I’m a great communicator.”

While it demonstrates several soft skills, don’t expect it to land you a job.

Soft Skills and Resumes
Using your resume as a means of displaying your skills is vital.

One way to include soft skills on to your resume is to take a formal class in them. If you’ve worked for any type of business before, you’ll almost certainly have done team-building exercises. Right now, you may even be part of a Toast Masters group. If listed on your resume, this will demonstrate your communication skills are better than average.

The state of Michigan has created a free video program to provide training in soft skills. CLICK HERE to find that video series.

The second way to include soft skills on to a resume is to refer to them indirectly. If you were responsible for implementing a new filing system or accounting method at your old job, you’ve demonstrated a soft skill: leadership.

You can either mention this when talking about job roles on your resume, or save it for an interview.

Demonstrating Soft Skills in Person

Emotional intelligence can be broken up into two parts: personality traits and skills.

While skills are better demonstrated in resume form or as an answer to a question, personality traits will shine through on their own if you let them.

A positive attitude and a passion for working hard are difficult to hide. Before going to any meeting with an employer, it’s best to remind yourself of these skills. Leaving home with a positive focus, a healthy dose of confidence, and the desire to sell yourself will mean you’re in the right frame of mind to make the best impression.

Familiarizing yourself with the social nuances within the American work place is also recommended.

What are your strengths, and what needs work?

Now you understand the importance of EQ, it’s important to self-evaluate. It’s likely you’ll have some personal traits you’re proud of, but have others that need working on.

Go through the seven points above and write examples of times when you’ve demonstrated your emotional intelligence. Doing so will help prepare you for upcoming interviews and many workplace situations you may encounter. It will also give you a good indication of where your strengths and weaknesses may lie.

GTRI 10 Disastrous Resume Mistakes

10 Disastrous Resume Mistakes (and how to avoid them!)

Everyone knows to include their name, contact information, and work experience on a resume. But what is going to make your resume stand out? What should you avoid to give you the best chance of being chosen for your dream position?

  1. Typos and grammatical errors. This is important for every job candidate to avoid, but for international students, it’s a good idea to add an extra step and have a native English speaker with good grammar skills review your resume for grammar and usage. It’s important for employers to be confident in your command of the English language.
  2. Using passive language. U.S. employers value self-motivation and action. The more your language reflects action, the better. This list of action verbs from The Muse will help make your resume stand out.
  3. Including illegal information. In the U.S. it is illegal for employers to ask certain questions. If this information is included on your resume, you will automatically be disqualified from applying. Illegal information includes:
    1. TOEFL Score
    2. A Photograph Backdrop
    3. Immigration Status
    4. Age/Birth date
    5. Hometown/Home Country
    6. Marital Status
    7. Race/Ethnicity
    8. Religion
  4. Focusing on group accomplishments.  Group accomplishments are a great thing to include on your resume because they demonstrate your ability to work on a team. However, you should focus this description on your role within the team.
  5. Listing tasks instead of problems solved. “Responsible for updating social media accounts,” becomes “Increased social media engagement scores by 13% by implementing new strategy.”
  6. A Hard to read format. Hiring managers generally have a lot of applicants for one position and want to be able to scan your resume quickly at first. Instead of writing in paragraph format, use bullet points whenever possible. In addition, an easy-to-read open sans font is a must.
  7. A lack of imagination or creativity. Hiring managers get tired of reading “resume-speak.” They also get tired of looking at resumes generated from templates. The level of creativity should match the type of position you are seeking. A graphic artist, for example, may have some graphic elements included in their resume, while an engineer would be expected to have a more traditional resume.
  8. A lack of focus. If you’re applying for an IT Specialist position, the time you spent as an intern in the IT Department at the University, or serving as the technical consultant for your favorite student group is relevant. Working in the dish room of the cafeteria is not. Make sure you highlight the experience that is relevant.
  9. Not including keywords. Especially if you submit an application online, hiring managers will likely use software that searches by keyword to sift through the first round of resumes. If you do not have those keywords in your resume, it will not make the first cut. A good practice is to identify the likely keywords being searched by reading the job description carefully, and then making sure those keywords are in your resume.
  10. Not offering references. If this is your first job, list professors in your major area of study, academic advisers, research partners, or anyone else that can speak to your work ethic and knowledge of your area of study. If you have job experience, a supervisor or a co-worker in a position of authority is the best reference.

Download our handy Resume and Interview Guide for more tips!

Suit Up for Success: What to Wear for Your Job Interview


You have a job interview coming up. You’ve researched the company, prepared yourself for those tough interview questions and now comes challenge of what to wear. First impressions are everything and how you dress is major part of it.

When deciding what is appropriate, always dress more professionally than you think. For males the best option is to wear a suit unless the company is not as professional. In that case you could wear dress pants and a button down shirt with a tie. Also note that accessories for men are important as well. Make sure you wear the proper shoes to match your outfit; you would never wear tennis shoes with a suit. And of course, personal grooming to match a professional environment is essential.

For women, dressing for an interview is more complex due to the combination of professional clothing available. The skirt suit is a good professional attire choice; dress pants and a blazer with a coordinated blouse is also ideal. Accessories for women are key, completing an interview outfit. Jewelry should complement your outfit without being too flashy. Neatly manicured nails and well-done hair are also an asset.

When the workplace or position is less formal, the dress code may be as well. Remember to dress for the position you want and never go dressed as a slob. You are not only projecting your fashion choices through your outfit, but also your work ethic.