Professional Development Resumes & Cover Letters

Soft Skills in the Workplace: Boost Your Freelance Career

Written by Miranda Pennington

Hard skills—like software certifications, degrees, work experience—are quantifiable; you either have them, or you don’t. But soft skills, like these rounded up by Brie Weiler Reynolds at, are qualities you can work to develop on your own. By the time you’re ready to send your resume and cover letter out, you can boast your proficiency with each and every one of these skills.


Are you proactive? Can you perform under pressure? A lot of this is a head game—do you feel a sense of control over your work and life? Are you confident in your abilities? A roster of freelance clients (even if you know some of them socially) can help demonstrate your ability to time-manage and hustle under your own steam.

Outcome Expectancy

This is what Valerie Ward of calls “the belief that one’s efforts will result in positive outcomes.” Basically, it’s glass-half-full thinking, accompanied by a dose of pragmatism. Set yourself up for success by not biting off more than you can chew and executing the tasks you take on in a timely, professional manner. Start small if you need to!

Maintenance of a Solid Network

One of the hardest things about freelancing is the lack of a cube-mate to kvetch to or brainstorm with. Make sure your support network extends beyond the office (or former office!)—find people who will listen to your issues, help you solve problems, pitch in for childcare, extend your professional network, and are generous with their time. Make sure the support goes both ways if you really want a network that performs for you.

Constant Self-Evaluation

These are the daily skills that usually come with sharing 4 walls and oxygen with a team of other employees: communication, being proactive, triaging a to-do list, work-life boundaries, learning from mistakes and accurate self-review. Be responsive, be generous, and do it every day, even when you don’t feel like you’re at your best.

Assessment of Past Experiences

FlexJobs calls this “work history,” but even more important than your actual background is the way you perceive and represent your experience. How can you put the best possible spin on even the least rewarding jobs? Assess the skills you acquired and responsibilities you held, and be able to talk about them cheerfully and confidently.

These soft skills will enable you to present a poised, professional attitude to prospective employers—and you can start honing them without even leaving your desk.

 5 Soft Skills for Long-Term Career Success

 Read More at Flex Jobs

About the author

Miranda Pennington

Miranda K. Pennington is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared on The Toast, The American Scholar, and the Ploughshares Writing Blog. She currently teaches creative nonfiction for Uptown Stories, a Morningside Heights nonprofit organization. She has an MFA from Columbia University, where she has also taught in the University Writing program and consulted in the Writing Center.