How Soft Skills Can Help You Sail Through the Recruitment Process

A recruiter hands a job description to a prospect

Resume updated: Check. Cover letters drafted: Done. Portfolio polished and posted online: Yep. So you've tackled the big steps in your job search, but it's not time to relax – these tools simply get you in the door.

These days, companies are being more selective about whom they hire. For the creative job seeker, this could extend the recruitment process longer than you'd like. The more time goes by, the bigger the chance the hiring manager will forget how awesome you are or be wooed by another applicant. To avoid this, you need to stand out as a person, not just as a list of skills.

During the company's recruitment process, you'll have countless opportunities to make a terrific impression – from the first discussion you have with the recruiter or hiring manager to the initial phone conversation to your interaction with the receptionist when you visit the firm for an in-person interview. At every step, you need to project an approachable demeanor and an enthusiasm for your work. You have to rely as much on your interpersonal skills as you do on your creative talents.

Here are tips for using your soft skills to wow the people you meet during the recruitment process:

1. Prepare your pitch. Craft a compelling storyline that describes you, your particular skills and your unique career experiences. Then, narrow this story down to an elevator pitch – a one- or two-sentence nutshell version that functions as the positioning statement for your personal brand. Verbally rehearse your pitch until it rolls off your tongue.

2. Express your enthusiasm. When you're genuinely excited about your work, it draws other people to you. Identify one project in your portfolio that you can speak about with great passion and enthusiasm. What excites you about it? Did it teach you a new design technique or solve a particularly sticky business problem? Was the team inspiring to work with? Be ready to talk about just how darn excited you were to tackle the project. You'll naturally relax and smile during the conversation.

3. Watch the body language. You've heard this before, but it bears repeating: How you speak and present yourself is just as important as what you say. A few essentials in the nonverbal department: Make eye contact with the person you're meeting with. Adopt a strong, tall posture, and present a firm, warm handshake. Smile.

4. Give, don't just take. Whenever you're in a position of persuading others (and a job interview certainly fits that description), it's important to understand how to effectively sell yourself and your ideas. Part of that includes seeing the other person's perspective and, most importantly, listening to what he or she says. Pay attention, ask questions and actively engage in the conversation. As a safeguard, come to the interview prepared with a few questions, in case nothing comes to mind when it's your turn to do the asking.

5. Be gracious. Every step in the recruitment process takes time – not just for you but for the people responsible for interviewing and choosing a new employee. Remember to thank them for their time and attention. Follow up on every job interview, even those that don't lead to a new gig.

During the recruitment process, a killer portfolio and top-notch resume might get you an interview. From there, it's up to you to close the deal. Find more advice on successfully pursuing the job you want on The Creative Group's blog.