It’s not always easy talking about your skills when you’re applying for a job, but it’s important to play to your strengths if you want to set yourself apart.
One of the best places to start is by looking at your soft skills. These are skills many of us have that often apply across roles and industries. They relate to things like how you work with colleagues, the ways you manage your work, and how you solve problems.
Research conducted for SEEK shows that up to 64% of hirers agree people with strong soft skills are more likely to land a job.
We asked Leah Lambart, Career and Interview Coach at Relaunch Me and Greg Kouwiloyan, Director at Method Recruitment Group, for their advice on how to confidently sell your soft skills throughout the application process.
Hiring managers usually ask questions that require you to demonstrate your soft skills. These are non-technical skills like communication, teamwork, time management, creative thinking and problem solving – skills that relate to how you work, not just the work you do.
Lambart’s advice is to respond with examples that are similar to the types of challenges you would be dealing with in the role. “This will help reassure the panel that you can handle the challenges in a way that is also aligned to the company values,” she says.
Kouwiloyan explains that an effective way to promote your skills is by using the STAR model to structure your responses — both in a written application and an interview. This approach helps you set the scene and provide clear examples to demonstrate your skills confidently.
S – describe the SITUATION
T – describe the TASK
A – describe your ACTIONS
R – describe the RESULT
“The A and the R in STAR are important ways of reassuring your future employer that you have the skills to be successful in the role,” Kouwiloyan says.
If you’re in an interview, using the STAR method often works well for the kinds of questions where the interviewer asks you to describe a situation. These questions often start out like:
Answering these questions can be a good opportunity to talk about your skills using the STAR method. Or, the interviewer may ask you to describe a particular skill, for example:
Here are examples of responses that can help you highlight soft skills, whether you’re responding to an interview question or giving examples in your answers as part of a job application. These follow the STAR method.
While the examples we’ve looked at here relate to soft skills, following the same answer style using the STAR method may also help you demonstrate times when you’ve put your hard skills or technical skills to use.
3 in 5 hirers are comfortable hiring people with transferrable skills who don’t necessarily have the right qualifications or industry experience.
When it comes to promoting your skills during a career change, Lambart says it’s all about making the link for the employer about how your skills could translate.
“I recently worked with a tour guide looking to make a career change into firefighting, so he drew on transferable skills like driving large vehicles, adapting communication for diverse audiences and responding to medical emergencies,” she says.
If you are applying for a new job, take stock of your skills and provide specific examples of how they will translate to the new role. Using the STAR formula as a guide helps you provide context and demonstrate your experience.
Describing your skills can be challenging, but having a method like this to guide you can help. Try adapting these sample answers to your own skills. Then, include them in your application if you’re asked to give examples – or try rehearsing them as part of your interview preparation.
You're more capable than you think. Discover your hidden talents today and put your skills to work.
Source: Independent research conducted by Nature of behalf of SEEK, interviewing 4800 Australians annually. Published May 2021.