Students displaying teamwork skills

Looking for work? Here’s what should go on your resumé

May 6, 2022
Author: Megan Zolorycki

Five soft skills employers are looking for

The school year is over, warmer weather is on the horizon, and you may be starting the search for a summer job. Whether that job is in your field of study or not, it’s important to understand what employers are looking for.

“Regardless of how strong your ‘hard’ or technical skills are, ‘soft’ skills are key,” says VIU Career Services Officer Paula Deering.

Soft skills are the interpersonal skills that help you fully use your hard skills and succeed in the workplace. More than ever, employers are looking for employees who fit into their workplace culture rather than just those who have the technical skills to do the job.

As I started to do some research, it’s apparent that there are about five key soft skills employers are looking for.


Communication in its simplest sense is “the ability to speak and write clearly, as well as the ability to listen well and process what others say,” cites Forbes magazine. Good communication skills encompass all realms, including written work and verbal communication, in-person and more recently, virtual interactions. An employee who is unable to actively listen and/or read and respond in an appropriate manner will get left behind on a team.

To highlight your communication skills on a resumé, put this ability first on your list of professional skills. Use examples that show both written and verbal communication abilities.

Tip: Make sure your resumé is professional and clearly communicates who you are as an employee.


“Employers are in search of candidates that have the personal attributes to work effectively on a team,” says Deering. But teamwork is more than just being a nice person to work with. Teamwork is active and it involves collaborating with colleagues and the ability to work with anyone seamlessly, especially if you’re working on a deadline.

To highlight teamwork skills on your resume, use an example of a time you collaborated within a team to achieve a goal. Be specific and shine the light on what YOU did.

Problem solving

Problem solving has never been more important than right now in the workforce. Over the past two years, businesses have had to navigate the never-ending global changes caused by the pandemic, which involved deep critical thinking. If you’re able to demonstrate that you can handle challenging situations, employers will be on board.

Highlight this on your resumé by listing skills that represent problem solving and make sure you’re prepared to answer a situational or behavioural interview question. The STAR Method can help you prepare.


Like communication, empathy, or the ability to interpret people’s thoughts and feelings, can assist you in making difficult decisions.

Empathy is harder to demonstrate on a resumé. To do this, describe a time you used emotional intelligence at work.  


Taking initiative means you’re a self-starter. You do things before you’re asked to do them and you’re actively spotting advantages and opportunities. This ties hand in hand with leadership and engagement. Employers do not want to babysit their employees. Demonstrate you can get things done without 24-7 guidance and you’ll stand out.

Use words on your resume such as “initiated” or “drove” and then be very specific on what you did and how you did it.

Resources on campus

The Centre for Experiential Learning (CEL) helps prepare students for co-operative education, internship opportunities and the transition into the workforce.

“The goal of the CEL team is to assist students in developing meaningful opportunities and objectives that fit the unique needs of each individual and their desired industry,” says Deering.

I asked Deering one tip she would give to an emerging VIU graduate about to enter the workforce and she said, “PROFFESIONALISM” (yes, in all-caps):

  • Practice your communication skills,
  • Be ethical and demonstrate integrity,
  • Develop self-awareness,
  • Take the initiative to develop your skills, and 
  • Keep your social media presence clean. 

Take the job search seriously, work on demonstrating key soft skills and you’ll be on the path to success. Good luck!


Megan Zolorycki has lived on Vancouver Island for more than 10 years. She is a second-year Bachelor of Arts student at VIU, majoring in creative writing and minoring in human resource management. Her long-term goal is to enter the journalism field. 

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