Technical qualifications aren’t the only things employers look for when deciding which candidate to hire. They know it takes more than that to be the kind of employee who will contribute to their company’s success.
So, you may not be the candidate with the most education or experience in the job you’re applying for, but as long as you have a basic foundation you can still win out — if you have the right soft skills.
What are soft skills and why are they important?
Soft skills are what make you a good worker — an asset to the team. A person can have decades of education and experience, but if they’re lazy, disorganized, close-minded or otherwise counterproductive, companies would prefer not to bring them on board. They’d much rather hire someone who has more to learn, but the right attitude and ability to make that learning happen.
Another great thing about soft skills is that they’re transferrable — they apply to just about any job in any field. So it’s definitely worth your while to build them up in your working life and on your resume.
Let’s talk about some of the most desirable soft skills.
This means both effectively sharing your ideas and actively listening to others. On your resume, highlight experiences where you:
- Delivered information in a clear, logical way (whether in a written report to your boss or a public speech)
- Gave or received feedback which resulted in a positive outcome
- Listened to what was said, asked the right questions and used the information gained to produce quality work
- Trained, coached or mentored others
- Showed tact, business etiquette, knew how to choose the right time to communicate
How well do you interact with the other people on your team, as well as clients and customers of the business? Essential people skills include:
- Collaboration and cooperation to accomplish a common goal
- Helpfulness and supportiveness of team members
- Negotiating and managing conflict to reach an agreement acceptable to all parties
- Leadership — influence others by your example, even if you’re not officially in charge
- Empathy and respect for others, including for multicultural and diversity issues
- Managing your own emotions so they don’t take over a situation
Work ethic skills
Employers love to see evidence that you will give full value for the money they pay you — and be a pleasure to work with.
- Industriousness, perseverance, willing to stay until the task is done
- Reliability, punctuality, doing what you’ve committed to do
- Diligence, efficiency, making sure every detail is right instead of just “phoning it in”
- Accountability, conscientiousness, not trying to blame others for your mistakes
- Aspirational, looking for ways to grow and move up the career ladder
These are the skills you need to achieve your goals, keeping you on task and giving you the resources to overcome challenges.
- Setting goals, including the intermediate steps you will take to reach the ultimate goal
- Prioritizing the most crucial tasks, monitoring and adjusting your priority list as needed
- Defining the time and resources needed to complete the job
- Managing your time
- Managing your stress
Problem solving skills
Every job evolves and demands new skills over time. Every business faces challenges in a rapidly changing economic environment, staying ahead of competitors, and so on. These skills demonstrate your ability to find solutions that enable you and your employer to continue to succeed.
- Adaptability, flexibility, willingness to change
- Focused on solutions, seeing problems as opportunities for improvement
- Creative thinking, innovation
- Lifelong learning, keeping your skills up to date
How do you acquire these soft skills?
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be born with these character qualities. You absolutely can educate yourself in the soft skills you haven’t learned on the job — and even put those education credits on your resume.
Look for books and online courses on the various skills, and you’ll find plenty to choose from — everything from communication to productivity to etiquette.
The last step is to put those skills into practice. Put yourself out there, and you just may exceed your own expectations!