Communication, teamwork, and problem-solving skills are mentioned on almost every cover letter and personal statement we see. You can imagine that recruiters get the same déjà vu. Meeting their criteria is essential but sometimes it isn’t enough to keep them interested. If you want your application to get more than a glance, spice up those skills and make your application a page-turner. Here are some ideas on how to do this.
Empathise with the employers
Recruiters can get hundreds of applications coming through and it can be an arduous task reading through them all. If you want to grab their attention, consider the time pressure they might be under. Think about all the information they must skim through. Look at your application through their perspective and ask yourself, is it easy to read? Does it seem genuine? Not too generic?
Describe how you will use the skills
Including your skills and providing examples to back them up is important; however, you can go a step further and describe how you will use the skills in their organisation. This is another way of tailoring your application to the role. It transforms it from a personal advertisement to a personalised letter.
“I developed strong skills in XYX and believe this would be useful in [state one or more job responsibilities from the job specification]"
Reflect on how you would fit into their team
If you would like some inspiration in deciding what value you bring to a team, you could look at Belbin’s team roles. It is interesting to see all the different strengths that people can add to a group. If you find some styles that you identify with, you could show them off in your application. For example, in one project you might have taken on a motivational role but in another project you might have acted as the specialist or the evaluator.
When deciding what aspects to describe or not describe, research the company and get a sense of their working culture. This will help you create a vibe that will align with theirs.
Being specific about your skills adds weight to your point. The more concrete detail you give, the more the employer will visualise you using the skills you have stated.
One way to do this is to break the skills down. Specify what kind of communication skills you have developed. Consider whether you are talking about written communication, public speaking, generally interacting with others, i.e. using interpersonal skills etc. Here, you have stated what skills you have but you also want to indicate how strong your skills are. To do this, you could add a verb like clear, confident, dynamic, strategic etc.
“Delivering these presentations developed my skills in being a clear, confident, and engaging communicator. For example…”
When describing your communication or teamwork skills. Depending on the context you could break it down even more and specify if you were liaising, negotiating, delegating etc.
“I have strengthened my skills in being a confident and dynamic leader. I efficiently delegate tasks, listen actively to others’ concerns, and problem-solve in a flexible manner. This was demonstrated in [provide example]”
The next steps
Once you have considered the above points, have a go and write about your skills. You might be surprised at what comes out!