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Written by Paul DruryPaul Drury

What Are Interpersonal Skills? Our Comprehensive Guide & Job-Winning Top Tips

8 min read
What Are Interpersonal Skills? Our Comprehensive Guide & Job-Winning Top Tips
Artwork by:Veronika Kiriyenko
Getting along with others is one of the keys to professional success, but what are interpersonal skills, and how can we use them in our CV to best convey our professional potential? How can we use our interpersonal skills to get the job done? What specific interpersonal skills does the job need?

Ultimately, interpersonal skills help us find common ground, navigate complex situations, communicate important needs and collaborate with others. 

We all need colleague help at work sometimes, so having great interpersonal skills helps to break down barriers, solve problems and overcome obstacles.

Our interpersonal skills are developed from childhood, but it's worth exploring their professional context and how we can use interpersonal skills to help us succeed in the workplace. 

In this article, we'll explore the following: 

  • What actually are interpersonal skills?
  • Our top 7 examples of interpersonal skills
  • How to include interpersonal skills in your CV
  • How to best improve your interpersonal skills for future success

Before we get started, it’s important to note that before you list interpersonal skills on your CV, it’s best to consider the job's demands and show how your people skills will help you fit in. For this reason, it’s best to read over the job description to ensure you have a good understanding of what’s required. 

Professional tip

Outline skills like communication, leadership or teamwork with context: phrases such as “I’m a good communicator” are stale and generic. Boring! Focus on discussing how you have achieved specific results through precise communication. Strong interpersonal skills create positive outcomes, how can you best convey your communication skills to employers? 

What are interpersonal skills?

Interpersonal skills are the skills, qualities and behaviours we possess that allow us to act efficiently with others. Most of the time, interpersonal skills can be developed through experience and wisdom over time. Whether it involves resolving conflicts, listening to colleagues or emphathising with others, interpersonal skills keep things moving in the workplace. 

Usually, interpersonal skills are considered soft skills, however they can also encompass more executive abilities and strengths, such as time management and organisation.

Our top 7 interpersonal skills examples

Some jobs require more interpersonal skills, such as clear communication and effective collaboration. Most CVs contain these top seven skills: 

Communication skills

Communication skills require efficiently communicating ideas verbally, written and visually. Ultimately, good communication is essential for articulating messages and receiving direction.

Working out how to collaborate and communicate with others is a valuable skill, and is typically considered essential by most employers. Subtle interpersonal skills, such as persuasive writing skills ensure what you say is heard and acted upon. Who wouldn’t want that? 

Example

Coordinated a three-month project plan that helped delivering $560,000 in annual cost savings.

Copied!

Emotional intelligence skills

Working out what others think and why they act certain ways is tough. Interpreting emotions, emphasising with others and sharing your own feelings matters in a caring, compassionate manner can also be a challenge. When you possess emotional intelligence, dealing with these issues becomes a little easier. Candidates that possess emotional intelligence can often use the unique perspectives of others to inform their decisions, making these candidates highly sought after by potential employers. 

Example

Guided my team of 20 through forced redundancy, helped explore career options as a concerned colleague rather than an aloof boss.

Copied!

Leadership skills

Leaders use their interpersonal skills to get the most out of people, inspiring and motivating them. Many leaders possess charisma that helps candidates connect with others, but situational leadership aspects can be learned over time. Getting a team unified is an immense achievement. Do you have what it takes? 

Example

Led sales team through -35% recession to smash budget by 65% with 100% retention.

Copied!

Negotiation skills

Rarely do two people or organisations want the exact same thing all the time. Negotiation skills come into play where compromise is needed and commercial gain is at stake. Employers often seek candidates with great negotiation skills as these candidates can consider all aspects of a situation, making them more likely to be an asset rather than a liability. 

Example

Consolidated fifteen suppliers down to twelve, negotiating 15% savings and streamlining operations

Copied!

Teamwork skills

Teamwork skills require understanding your contribution to the team, relying on others, and offering leadership where appropriate. Teamwork goes hand-in-hand with communication and listening skills. Can you think of any times where you showed exceptional teamwork skills? 

Example

Collaborated with accounting and marketing teams to launch flagship service into ten new markets, achieving $8,000,000 revenue in year one.

Copied!

Active listening skills

Listening to others can boost productivity and inspire positive action. It can also show colleagues that you care about their ideas, which helps to build morale within the workplace. Active listeners show concern, build trust, ask questions, and work towards common understanding.

Example

Helped chair dispute resolution panel seeking to understand workplace grievances and find sustainable solutions.

Copied!

Problem solving skills

Rarely can problems in the workplace be solved alone. It’s important to collaborate with others to find the best approach. This is just one way to demonstrate effective problem solving skills. Ultimately, problem solving skills require different approaches and generating creative solutions to an issue or challenge. Can you think of a time where you showed leadership and thought of a solution that helped solve a difficult problem? 

Example

Identified new product offering and launched ahead of competitors, six months before they could.

Copied!

Including interpersonal skills on your CV

Including problem-solving and communication skills may be great to include to help bypass the ATS, but it’s also important to list how you’ve demonstrated these skills, where possible. 

First, go deeper. Can you think of any specific examples where you demonstrated relevant interpersonal skills? 

Secondly, remember that skills sections can often be dismissed, as anyone can claim skills without evidence. For this reason, it’s important to highlight specific examples. 

You can list these examples in your professional summary, employment history and cover letter. Be sure to weave in skills specifically listed in the job description, how you possess them and how they may enable future success. Use powerful action verbs and your skills will jump off the page.

Note: interpersonal skills often comprise other skills: for example, listening requires focus,  negotiating includes persuasion and research. Illustrate the components and you'll offer a more individualised picture of your skills. Lookin’ good! 

Key takeaways

  • Interpersonal skills relate to interacting with others.
  • They're essential on a CV because they convey your professional potential and how you can be an asset to the workplace
  • Interpersonal skills give context to your interpersonal skills with examples of using them.
  • These skills can help enhance your CV and grab the attention of employers. When your skills section is done right, it can help create a job-winning CV!

Oh, and don’t forget to proofread! 

You got this!

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