Is a Soft Skill a Soft Sell?

Resumes. CVs. Cover letters. Interview Preparation. I am working on all this exciting stuff before I launch myself into the pursuit of my next career. But I am perplexed by the requests for Soft Skills. For a resume I am required to name a couple of SOFT SKILLS. Soft Skills are described as “people skills, the mix of social and interpersonal skills, character traits, and professional attitudes that all jobs require

But these are my Best Skills. The people stuff. And they are NOT Soft!! I can happily work in a number of relevant programs but I certainly don’t consider that learning them was Hard. The hard part was engaging the program while having a real life anxious customer on the line. Though that was not hard after a while.

Turning a customer with a problem into a customer for life in three and a half minutes is certainly not a Soft Skill.

Is multi tasking really a Soft Skill? We do stuff like that every day. In a normal thirty seconds at work I would: Proofread a lot number (Can you double check this for me?) while answering a call ( My subscription needs to be cancelled; sure Valerie let’s see what we can do – can I put you on hold for a tic?) Just as a team member is lifting boxes at the door, catching your eye, her eyebrows raised – (This one or this one she gestures, laughing) . I tip my head in the direction of ‘this one’. I rise, the phone to my ear, send my latest copy in to be proofed, smack the photocopier back into life ( First rule of physics). Then wave to another team member ( Thank you – thumbs up, back shortly) Pick up the lap top and leave the room (OK Valerie, I am all yours – let’s look at your account).

And while I am writing this to you – I have a 5 year old at my elbow asking for more information on edible spoons – a discussion I mistakenly started at breakfast, (he won’t eat his toast but is beyond excited about eating the fork!)

Creative Thinking is a Soft Skill apparently but creative thinking is my BEST THING! In fact I have a lot of difficulty with un- creative thinking. How can THINKING be described as Soft.

My grandmother used to wear her silk knickers inside-out because she did not like the feel of the seams against her skin – that might be construed as Soft. Eating fresh baked bread and butter until you feel sick is Soft, (I am sitting quietly until I feel a little better). Having a spell check program check your spelling and grammar as you type is Soft. ( Though I am grateful). Spreadsheets soften my whole life into manageable line sized pieces. Spreadsheets are SOFT!! ( She says sulkily)

Stuff like multi tasking, attention to detail, digging into the minutiae of a task, language, communication, anticipating a problem and fixing it before the bosses even knew there was going to be a problem that would need fixing, leadership, smiling into the phone, negotiation, facilitation. Not Soft! I don’t care what the resume experts say. Not Soft.

You can learn a new program, you can find an online course for any one of them, we can all do an Aunty Google Search. But how does a person learn to lead. How can someone learn courage or inquisitiveness. We do not have detailed instructions on how to anticipate and solve a problem. I think I prefer the word talent. Because talents are not learned they are developed from experience – long experience coupled with innate ability. Thoughtful work. Talent.

And, by the way, now I have a 10 year old laying on my bed writing a story, from a prompt I wrote for her, about a girl called Plum who has a room full of spiders making webs that Plum then weaves into dresses. The 10 year old just introduced a basket of bread. She is developing a Soft Talent – story telling – one of the most important Soft Skills of all. Not SOFT!

No, Our Soft Skills are not a Soft Touch. We work damn Hard on them.

Now I want to know about your Soft Skills that are really Talents that need applause and prizes. Because The Fellowship does not take kindly to being called SOFT!

Have a lovely day now.


Join me on my instagram account cecilia_thekitchensgarden.

Or as Cecilia Gunther on LinkedIn

30 Comments on “Is a Soft Skill a Soft Sell?

  1. I don’t see soft as a lesser skill at all. My admin assistant has plenty of ‘hard’ skills, ie cut and dried skills, using Xcel, making tables, getting totals, but she is lacking in ‘soft skills’, ie communication, being human, sharing a joke, asking how am I, etc. What would be a better word for ‘soft skills’? Maybe relational skills? connection skills? What kind of world do we live in when the value of being human gets named by a term that is associated with weakness!

    I love your adventurous approach to building a new career. The film industry would love you.

    • Totally agree with Juliet in that ‘soft skills’, ie communication, being human, sharing a joke, asking how am I, etc’ are so very important, and perhaps do not have a place to ‘fill in the blank’ with these skills on job resumes. Thus, new terminology, Soft Skills, is being used for being a kind, caring, supportive individual with those types of skills. The skills that are becoming increasingly important in our world today. Whatever you choose to do Celi you will absolutely ROCK at!!! And that’s a fact!

  2. After a decades of gainful employment the idea of needing to explain soft skills which as a result are proven and nicely honed but subtle as a sharp edge should be is perplexing. However, as you are doing, I’d put my mind to the exercise which might seem gratuitous if you think about it too much, overlook that part and write something that fit the brief. And, because in my experience advertised roles and criteria are sometimes less meaningful than their actual application, I often include something like this… “an ability to fulfil the fundamental requirements of a role and then develop it further”. I prefer the old ways of getting jobs… chatting to someone who knows someone. Even that today they call networking, which I find a difficult soft skill to manufacture.

    • The old ways of getting jobs in your own area still work. We just have a slightly different take on local now that we can work remotely. But certainly connections are as critical as before. Great line – thank you!

  3. Hoverer logical you are and however honest by nature more than one way of presenting yourself surely is allowed to attain success. If the possible future employer wants to see your talents and skills as ‘soft’ ones > let him (oops: her !) . . . make the situation a ‘hard sell’ as far as he is concerned and reap the benefit with a quiet ‘secret’ smile ! . . . Of corse at the rate you are going in Ca you will never be allowed to go . . . best !!!

  4. You have a tremendous Soft Skill to point out, which is creating, managing and maintaining the content of a blog which is now xxx years old, has 15,714 followers and which would be deeply mourned if it ceased (just ask for testimonials – you’d be overwhelmed). You have demonstrated excellent customer outreach at the Mill, also creating content in an imaginative, consistent and practical way to help build customer loyalty and engagement. You are courageous, resilient, flexible and imaginative; all characteristics which can be demonstrated very easily. All your multiple skills can be re-written to more closely target whatever job you’re aiming yourself at, simply because they are transferable, inherent and part of who you are. I wish you intuitive and accepting interviewers with the ability to see beyond societal templates!

  5. I agree with Kate’s comment! If a prospective employer took the time to read your blog, they would know exactly the variety of soft and hard skills that you have. Hard to sum up in a few lines or paragraphs!

  6. I could not agree more. However, I have worked with several people who never seem to catch the knack of these sorta indefinable things that fill most of my day. They stumble through calls that follow the same pattern as 100s of previous calls they’ve taken, they never seem to doubt their own infallibility so rarely check their work, they assume the caller actually says what they want instead of reading between the lines and asking more questions to get to the actual problem. I’ve tried to train people on these things but I’ve come to the conclusion that it requires both a self awareness and a drive to improve. Lots of folks one or both of those characteristics.

  7. I believe, your best soft skill is your ability to inspire people. If they need proof have them check with all of us loyal followers.

      • Thanks I used to belong to LinkedIn I’ll have to see if I can find my password I’ll take a look.

  8. Patience above! I regular drop by hoping to see you posting. I was just about to move you to the ‘inactive’ file when lo! Here you are! I was glad to read of your updates.

  9. CG nailed it, you inspire. Lots of other comments nailed it too but I really liked that description.

    You inspire me.

    I go to a group meeting once a week and the facilitator regularly reminds us that it has been scientifically proven that you can’t really multi-task; move very quickly between tasks, thoughts and emotions, yes, doable and some folks are better at it than others.

    Love your brain and it’s hard and soft skills Celi.

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