I have a friend who is conversational in three languages. That impresses me no end. But when she showed me her resume, I was surprised to find that she never mentioned her talent in languages. As a professional resume writer, one of my tasks is to help job seekers recognize hidden talents that actually have very high value for companies. My friend made four statements that I have heard over and over again from job seekers who undervalue their skills and contribution to a company. Here is what she said and here is how I replied.
My friend: Learning languages is easy.
Me: Maybe a skill like learning languages is easy for you, but “easy” is not the same as “without value.” Besides, acquiring even an “easy” skill requires practice, attention, and dedication. Because I have written resumes for so long, you might say resume writing is easy for me, but that does not mean I was born writing resumes! Take pride in what you do, even if it is easy for you. What is easy for you is difficult for others.
My friend: The companies where I am applying do not need someone with this skill.
Me: That may be true but every company wants employees who are willing and able to take on and meet challenges. Those are soft skills, and they may be the determining factor in getting you an interview. I am not advocating a resume filled with outdated or barely relevant skills. But if you have a 21st century skill—especially one that shows your ability to learn, mentor, meet challenges, lead, work on a team, work with diverse groups and so on—mention it in your resume even if the job postings do not list it as a requirement. You are bringing added value to the company.
My friend: I am not an expert.
Me: That is fine. If you are not fluent in languages, your resume will honestly state: “Conversational Arabic, Spanish, French, and Italian.” If you are not an expert in a software program, you can honestly state you are “familiar with” or “experienced in” that program. You should never exaggerate your abilities in a resume but if you have them, mention them.
My friend: I never used these skills for an employer before. What if they are not good enough?
Me: The best judge of whether your soft or hard skills meet the company’s needs is the company. We have all experienced moments of self-doubt. Do not let self-doubt into your resume to undermine your job search. Your resume must be honest and straightforward about what you can do; it must be focused; and it must set you apart from the competition. As a professional resume writer, I can do that.