No matter how qualified you are for a position or how many certifications you have under your belt, no employer is going to hire you if you lack good people skills.
In this article, we provide:
- A long list of people skills that can be added to your resume (or worked on for your own benefit)
- Tips for improving your people skills
- Examples of excellent resumes and cover letters that effectively showcase people skills
But first, a quick definition.
What Are People Skills? (Definition)
People skills are similar to interpersonal skills, but refer to slightly different traits.
People skills is a more general term, and describes the abilities that allow you to inspire others and spread positivity.
By contrast, interpersonal skills is a specific term that refers to your ability to communicate and empathize (i.e., understand others’ feelings) with the people around you.
Interpersonal skills is not just another word for people skills. People skills are needed to foster a productive working environment, whereas interpersonal skills are best used by counselors and other people who listen for a living (however, they’re still valuable for employees).
Improving and maintaining your people skills is crucial, since being able to interact with others is a key part of the vast majority of jobs. Hiring managers don’t want to hire someone who doesn’t have good people skills.
Even if you have the hard skills (i.e., technical skills acquired through training) necessary to perform well at a role, other people might not be comfortable working with someone lacking in social know-how. Social skills are a kind of soft skill, which are skills related to your personality and how you interact with others.
During the application process, the interview will be the first chance employers have to judge your people skills, so making a good first impression is essential. You can practice interview questions with your friends — or careers service if you’re still in college — to hone these skills.
24 Soft People Skills Examples
We’ve compiled a long list of people skills examples that you can include on your resume and in your cover letter:
1. Communication Skills
Communication skills are vital people skills that allow you to accurately convey information, pick up the relevant facts when listening to people, and give presentations to large groups.
Communication skills are so crucial that Inc.com named them the No. 1 soft skill that employees must have. Someone with effective communication skills can explain complex ideas in a simple way and use their body language to put their point across.
2. Conflict Resolution
Conflict resolution involves you acting as a neutral referee when two or more people have a dispute to settle. It’s especially useful if you’re a customer service representative dealing with customers who have a grievance.
This skill is linked to calmness. Since remaining calm is essential to seeing two sides of an argument and landing on a compromise that’s acceptable to everyone, being able to stay calm is a key part of conflict resolution.
3. Leadership Skills
Leadership skills allow you to inspire and motivate your team. These abilities help you decide on a direction and make sure everyone follows it. You don’t necessarily need to have leadership skills to find a job, but you will need them if you’re seeking a supervisor or leadership role.
Most employers are thinking about their companies’ long-term needs during the hiring process. It’s likely that they’re looking for leadership skills in all the candidates they interview, so that they have a good set of candidates to consider for promotion in the future.
Even if you’re not yet ready for leadership, you’ll eventually reach the point where you’re an experienced employee in your company. Your boss will expect you to take new hires under your wing and make their first weeks smoother.
This skill has a strong connection with communication skills, because you’ll need to instruct new hires on various aspects of their new job.
5. Negotiation skills
Being able to negotiate is an essential people skill — whether it’s asking for a raise, seeking a deadline on a difficult project, or negotiating a contract with a new client. Since every client is different, you must be able to understand their needs while keeping your company’s interests in mind too.
Since the service sector is growing, more and more employees are customer-facing, which means for many employers, having or developing negotiation skills is — well — non-negotiable.
6. Management Skills
If you’re in a position of authority, then you’ll need effective management skills. Such skills allow you to appraise your team, promote them or award them bonuses when earned, and give them support when they’re struggling.
Even if you’re on the lowest rung of the career ladder, you may still need strong management skills. For example, maybe your workplace wants to take on interns. You might find yourself supervising them if no one else is available.
18 Additional People Skills:
- Creative thinking
- Listening skills
- Customer service skills
- Persuasion skills
- Networking skills
- Conversation skills
- Social skills
- A sense of humor
- Team-building skills
- Problem solving
- Motivational skills
How to Develop Good People Skills
You can develop good people skills naturally by putting yourself out there and taking part in social situations. Simply interacting with new people is an effective way of improving your people skills.
There are also many resources available online that can help you kick-start your goal of honing your people skills:
- BusinessBalls.com — this site provides many training programs for soft skills, including people skills.
- DaleCarnegie.com — Dale Carnegie was the author of the influential book How to Win Friends and Influence People, and this website gives you similar tips.
Furthermore, there are resources available if your people skills are affected by health conditions, like social anxiety, which affects one in eight Americans. You can unleash the real you by seeing a doctor for treatment or by using online resources to resolve your social anxiety:
- ScienceOfPeople — this page helps you understand what social anxiety is as well as how to recognize and treat it.
- Joyable — this service provides web-based treatment for social anxiety. Web-based treatment has been proven effective and may be cheaper than seeing a therapist in person.
What Does a Good People Skills Resume Look Like?
Take a look at our vast collection of resume samples and you’ll see that each writer showcases their people skills effectively throughout their resume. Specifically, they hit upon people skills in the skills section, and then explain them fully — with quantifiable data — in the work experience section.
Below, we’ve provided some of the best people skills resume examples we have on our site. You’ll see that many of them come from industries that demand frequent interaction with others, such as customer service and nursing.
Good people skills are particularly essential in these fields. However, they’re still necessary in nearly every other job out there.
Personal Assistant Resume Sample
Legal Assistant Resume Sample
Takeaway — Improve Your Ability to Work with Others
Improving your people skills will boost your ability to work with others, making you a more well-rounded and desirable applicant.
A great resume will list your people skills and state how you used them in your past roles, while the best cover letters will go further by describing how your people skills helped you achieve major successes for your employers.
If you haven’t already showcased your people skills on your resume, you can download one of our resume templates and tailor it to your own needs and specifications (be sure to mention your ability to communicate if it’s one of your strengths).
Similarly, one of our professional cover letter templates is just what you need to explain your people skills in depth. And don’t forget, your resume and cover letter style should match. That’s another effective way to catch the hiring manager’s eye.