A recent report from the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario analyzed the content of hundreds of job postings on Workopolis as well as other sites to determine which skills are mentioned most frequently – and how often they appear. It turns out that across industries, there is one skillset that appears in fully 93% of job ads. That nearly universally sought after ability is teamwork. [See: The 13 essential skills most often listed in Canadian job descriptions]

Canadian employers are clearly looking to hire people who can could work well with others, as some variation of team work, collaboration, or working with others is the most frequently requested skill appearing in Canadian job ads.

When a phrase is that commonly used, it can lose all meaning. You might be tempted to think that asking for teamwork is just a catchphrase employers insert in job descriptions as filler. That would be a missed opportunity.

Focussing on the skills that employers really want, and showing (not just telling) that you have used them successfully in the past, can be the secret resume ingredient that turns applications into interviews.

Teamwork is actually a collection of interpersonal skills. Successful collaboration necessarily includes communication, negotiation, cooperation, emotional intelligence, dependability, as well as a certain level of sociability.

So rather than merely stating that you are a ‘team-player’ which may or may not convince anyone, think of ways that you have effectively demonstrated those skills on the job, and list concrete examples of those among your accomplishments.

For example:

  • Initiated weekly stand-up meetings between members of the customer service, technology, and marketing teams to make sure that all known customer issues were being addressed and responded to. Increased positive feedback in customer satisfaction surveys by 45%.
  • Organized cross-departmental volunteer group for the annual City Streets Clean-Up drive.
  • Joined the company Social Committee, organized quarterly awards celebrations and holiday parties. Researched locations, organized the budget, and scheduled communications for the annual townhall meeting and company party.

Two thirds (67%) of employers surveyed by Workopolis told us that they have difficulty finding candidates with the requisite soft skills they need. Unfortunately, soft skills are much more difficult than technical abilities to highlight in a resumes.

To make a convincing case for your interpersonal skills, use concrete examples from your past employment. And be sure to also include any awards or recognitions that you may have received, which can demonstrably prove how you were a stand-out member of the team.


Peter Harris
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