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How to use interpersonal skills in the job search


This article delves into the pivotal role of interpersonal skills in the job search process, illustrating how they can significantly enhance your employability. It offers practical advice on showcasing these crucial skills in your resume and interviews, setting you apart in the competitive job market.

Table of content

What are interpersonal skills?

Interpersonal skills encompass behaviors critical for effective interaction with others and, hence, are important in the workplace. In a professional setting, interpersonal skills are often thought of as people skills or social skills and include everything from communication and listening skills to attitude and body language. Employers looking for interpersonal skills value the ability to get along with others and solve problems collaboratively. Poor interpersonal skills can hinder teamwork, whereas strong social aptitudes, like actively asking questions, can help build a harmonious environment.

Interpersonal skills vs. intrapersonal skills: What’s the difference?

Interpersonal skills enable and facilitate interaction and collaboration, making them highly visible and valuable to employers who seek team players and effective communicators. On the flip side, intrapersonal skills involve self-awareness and self-regulation, serving as the foundation for personal growth and emotional intelligence. While intrapersonal skills are internal and personal, their effects indirectly enhance interpersonal interactions, as understanding oneself is key to understanding others. Both skill sets are crucial, yet the outward expression of interpersonal abilities often becomes the focus in professional settings where teamwork and communication are critical for success.

Examples of interpersonal skills

  • Effective Communication: This interpersonal skill allows individuals to convey their ideas and feelings in a clear and understandable manner. Good communication skills are fundamental in ensuring that messages are not only delivered but also received and understood.
  • Active Listening: Active listening is a critical interpersonal skill involving fully concentrating, understanding, responding, and then remembering what is being said. This is a soft skill that can improve your interpersonal skills by fostering deeper engagement in conversations.
  • Emotional Intelligence: High emotional intelligence is one of the solid interpersonal skills that involves the ability to recognize and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. It’s pivotal for teams working together, as understanding and empathy can lead to more cohesive and productive work environments.
  • Teamwork: The ability to cooperate with others to achieve a common goal is a hallmark of good interpersonal skills. Teamwork requires a combination of interpersonal communication, collaboration, and conflict-resolution skills.
  • Negotiation: Whether it’s discussing salaries or project deadlines, negotiation is a key interpersonal skill. It involves communication and problem-solving abilities to reach a mutually beneficial agreement.
  • Conflict Resolution: The ability to peacefully resolve a dispute or disagreement is an essential interpersonal skill. Conflict resolution requires sound interpersonal skills like patience, emotional intelligence, and deliberate listening.
  • Leadership Skills: These are the interpersonal skills that allow an individual to guide and manage teams effectively. Leadership skills include the ability to motivate, inspire, and direct others.
  • Social Skills: Social skills are the interpersonal skills we use to interact with peers effectively. They encompass a range of behaviors, including verbal and non-verbal communication, gestures, and body language.
  • Self-awareness: This is the ability to understand your own emotions, strengths, weaknesses, and values and how they affect others. This introspection can enhance interpersonal skills by aligning personal conduct with social expectations.
  • Collaboration: The ability to collaborate is a cornerstone of interpersonal skills that enables individuals to work together and combine efforts to achieve a shared goal. It’s a skill that employers seek in the job description as it’s crucial in order to be a good team player.

Which jobs require interpersonal skills?

In the current job market, virtually every role demands solid interpersonal skills on top of relevant technical skills. Employers are looking for more than just technical know-how; they value personality traits that enable seamless interpersonal interactions and contribute to a productive work environment. Interpersonal skills mean the ability to communicate, collaborate, and resolve conflicts effectively. These are the specific skills necessary for collaboration and leadership, influencing skills that drive projects forward, and problem-solving skills that overcome workplace challenges.

When applying for a job, it’s important to incorporate interpersonal skills into your job application and resume. Written communication skills play a pivotal role, but so does the capacity to demonstrate interpersonal skills in interviews and day-to-day tasks. These skills help us connect on a personal and professional level; making room on your resume to include interpersonal skills can give you an edge. Great interpersonal skills can significantly influence your career trajectory, so know where you stand and continuously strive to improve and demonstrate them.

In the job-hunting landscape, the value of interpersonal skills parallels that of technical competencies. Employers aren’t just seeking individuals with the right hard skills; they prioritize candidates who exhibit strong interpersonal abilities. Skills such as empathy enable professionals to connect with colleagues and clients on a deeper level, fostering a workplace culture that thrives on mutual understanding and respect. Similarly, negotiation skills are not just for boardroom discussions—they’re instrumental in everyday interactions, helping to resolve conflicts, forge agreements, or even counteroffer a job offer. Together, these interpersonal skills are necessary for maintaining a positive and productive work environment, making them non-negotiable traits for potential hires.

How should you leverage interpersonal skills on your resume? 

Leveraging interpersonal skills in your resume is a strategic move as part of the job fit analysis. To ensure alignment with what employers seek, scrutinize the job description for clues on both soft and hard skills. Interpersonal skills are crucial and should be woven into every section of your resume, demonstrating how they complement technical abilities. Highlight interpersonal skills in the summary by giving examples that mirror the job’s requirements, like project management experience paired with the ability to work well with others.

In the skills section, list interpersonal skills that are crucial for the role, such as good communication, being a good listener, or interpersonal skills like empathy. Showcase interpersonal skills in action within the experience section, illustrating how your personal skills have positively impacted previous roles. Employers often seek people with strong interpersonal skills because they know such candidates can interact with others productively and get along with teammates seamlessly.

When you highlight interpersonal skills, you’re not just filling space; you’re telling potential employers that you have the personality traits and influencing skills that make you a well-rounded candidate. Do not take these skills for granted; they could be the tipping point in your application.

How to improve interpersonal skills? 

Improving interpersonal skills is a key component of career development, and it begins with a commitment to self-improvement. First, recognize that interpersonal skills are essential; they are the skills that enable you to interact with peers effectively and work well with others in a team. To enhance these skills, start with intrapersonal reflection to understand how your skills might influence interactions.

Practice active listening, which involves fully concentrating on the speaker, understanding their message, responding thoughtfully, and remembering the conversation. This is a cornerstone of excellent interpersonal communication, encompassing both verbal and non-verbal cues.

Incorporate feedback from peers and mentors to identify areas of improvement, especially for jobs that require interpersonal skills. Engage in social situations that challenge you to train your interpersonal skills. This could be through networking events, team-based projects, or even role-playing scenarios.

By focusing on these areas, you’ll notice a marked improvement in your ability to work with others effectively, which is a trait employers look for and should be reflected in the skills section of your resume. Remember, people with strong interpersonal skills are often seen as more adaptable and capable in the workplace.