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How to Make Boring Job Skills Marketable

We career gurus often tell you to veer away from those “overly common” skills that everyone puts on their resume:

  • creativity
  • good communication skills
  • team player
  • independent thinker
  • goal-oriented

…and the list goes on.

Here’s the thing. Nobody ever gets hired because their resume states that they’re “creative”.

The ironic thing about that is that creativity is still one of the most valuable assets a candidate can bring to the table, says Fortune 1000 executives in a recent MetLife study, right along with the ability to work in teams. And plenty of us are good at that, we list it on our resume, our LinkedIn profiles, we talk about it in the interview.

But what’s missing?

Your Job Skills Need Context

People often tell me one of their most marketable traits is that they’re “a hard worker,” or something of the like. And I’m thinking “That’s good because I never made it a point as a recruiter to hire anyone who admittedly enjoyed slacking off and producing sub-par work.”

It’s not that it’s a bad answer, but it doesn’t shed any light on the candidate’s capabilities, accomplishments, or where they really do/have done their best work. You can have the greatest list of qualifying skill in the world, but if you don’t provide any context or story behind how you used those skills to achieve success in your role, contribute to the organization, etc., it’s not going to be as powerful as a selling point.

So you look good on paper. Now, imagine yourself in the interview process, where you’re put in the pressure seat to discuss your skills and experience in more depth.

Position “blah” Job Skills in an Impactful & Marketable Way

Candidate: I’m a highly strategic thinker.

Interviewer: Tell me more about that.
Candidate: I like to go beyond the situation at hand and look at the bigger picture. I’m able to talk to a customer, understand their business and their needs, and envision the relationship form a high level. There are immediate solutions I can provide to them, but I also look ahead and see the potential for additional business or expansion into other departments down the road, and where we have added value to offer them. One particular situation where I was really able to grow the business was…

Candidate: I’m a creative person.

Interviewer: Tell me more about that.
Candidate: Even though I’m not involved in the hands-on design work in my role as an Account Manager, I follow a lot of thought leaders and blogs on design and marketing principles. And I like to be able to bring that perspective to the table. It helps me forge a better connection between the client’s point of view, and the internal teams working on their campaigns.

Candidate: I work well both independently and as part of a team.

Interviewer: Tell me more about that.
Candidate: Most of my clients have worked with me for a long time, they know what products and services they need and want, and I continue to provide those to them. But now that we’ve expanded our sales team, occasionally I will take some of my colleagues from other product departments with me on my sales visits if I see a potential for cross-selling, or an opportunity to introduce other products the company offers, based on what I think my clients might find interesting and valuable. I had an interesting situation with one of my largest accounts recently….

Candidate: I’m an excellent communicator.

Interviewer: Tell me more about that.
Candidate: It’s my responsibility to bring creative ideas to the table at the team meeting, to speak up and share them, and communicate them in a way that everyone can understand. But then I also have to take the ideas that come out of that meeting and pitch them to the client in a way that speaks to their line of business and their needs. This one project recently comes to mind…

Effective marketing has a visual component to it, which is why you often hear about storytelling as an excellent selling tool. The better you can help your audience put your skills and experience into context, and visualize the positive outcome, the more likely it is to have an impact.

So don’t scratch those “Written Communications” skills off your resume or cover letter just yet. Do some brainstorming, and think about how you can expand on that and take the idea to the next level, with some examples and context that illustrate just how those skills allowed you to make a difference, to grow, and to position yourself as a valuable asset to the company.

What Next?

A solid resume is the key to landing the job interview. Check out our suite of resume and branded content services.

Do you need help crafting an impactful digital brand presence? BRS offers professional design services to help you create fresh, creative, and professional websites, infographics, logos, and business cards to complement your resume and other job search marketing materials.