“Soft skills get little respect but will make or break your career”- Peggy Klaus.
I recently had a conversation with a few friends that are also in business. A couple are the owners of companies. What they told me was enlightening. Often enough they find a prospective employee will focus on education, degrees or certifications, but just as often they are lacking in the proper soft skills. One person explained that education and degree might help you get the interview but it’s soft skills that can make the difference in geting you hired. Highlighting soft skills on your resume can set you apart from other candidates.
What are soft skills? Soft skills are non-technical skills. They include social skills such as communication, being collaborative, empathy, encouraging participation and leadership. Adaptability, creativity, problem-solving, resilience and time management are also included as soft skills. These are obviously important to us personally, but businesses and companies want these skills, too. Employees who are strong in these basic soft skills can be unbelievably valuable to a company as they interact with colleagues, team members and clients.
Technical or professional skills are obviously essential but having strong soft skills is increasingly important and considered a solid advantage when being considered for a position. Employers want people who have good communication skills, are emotionally intelligent, good at problem solving and are able to tolerate a rapidly changing work environment. With more of us working from home, knowing how to manage time and stay on task is critical.
Let’s dive deeper into some basic soft skills:
- Communication: This is a basic. Employees need to know how to communicate with others professionally and constructively, whether in person or in writing.
- Empathy: Being empathetic means that you can be understanding of the emotions of others. Empathy connects you to others in your workplace, and helps you builds positive relationships.
- Problem-solving: An employee that can solve a problem quickly and effectively is an asset.
- Teamwork: Being able to work as part of a team as well as part of a cross-functional team improves use of company resources, saving time and money.
- Time management: Managing time well has become increasingly important, especially as more of us work remotely. Meeting deadlines, being efficient and producing work on time boosts output and cost-effectiveness.
- Work ethic: Having a strong work ethic is vital to productivity and a successful workplace environment. A good work ethic will help build positive connections with colleagues and management and are often viewed to be as essential as good technical skills.
- Leadership: Examples of leadership skills are critical thinking, knowing how to delegate, motivating others, taking initiative and people and conflict management. Strong leaders are key to aligning a team and helping a company achieve its goals.
It’s important to note that these skills are not necessarily inborn or come naturally to us. The good news is that they can be developed and improved over time with commitment and practice.
How can you improve soft skills?
Here are several ways which can help you develop and increase these skills:
- Pick the skill you want to improve and practice it every day. Make it routine to practice the skill at home, at events, or and at work. This consistency is key to making progress.
- Find resources and research the skill. Learn as much as you can. Books, podcasts, articles, courses, coaches – there are many avenues available for deepening your skill set.
- Set milestone goals to help you improve. Ask friends for constructive feedback. This will help you identify specific areas you need to work on.
Hard skills are always going to be important in business, but soft skills are being prioritized more and more in the modern workplace. A strong set of soft skills will make you a candidate that employers want to hire and promote, so be sure to highlight these in your resume the next time you are thinking of a career move.
I would love to hear from you, so write a comment below or on my Facebook page.