Job seekers or employees with strong soft skills are in high demand these days. A recent study by LinkedIn found that 92% of respondents said soft skills are MORE important than technical skills and 89% said that their “bad hires” typically lack soft skills. As businesses pivot and adjust to new norms like working remotely, adapting products and services to new demand, and change internal procedures and processes, having a workforce that can help problem solve, communicate, and adapt to change is becoming ever more important!
Firstly, what is a “soft skill”? Soft skills are interpersonal attributes such as personality, attitude, flexibility, motivation, and manners. The term came about at the same time the phrase “hard skills” was coined. Hard skills include things like mathematical skills or knowledge of engineering or science. But let’s get something straight – soft skills are certainly NOT soft! They are often harder to develop than hard skills and they play a huge role in your success in the workplace. There have even been arguments to change the term to something like “people skills” because our interpretation of the word “soft” tends to be derogatory.
Soft skills are complicated and they aren’t typically learned on the job, so employers are always looking for candidates who can show that they’ve already developed some of these skills. We’ve compiled a list of some of the most important soft skills that employers look for.
|One of the most important things an employer looks for in a candidate is a strong work ethic. This includes traits such as dedication, punctuality, the ability to multitask, and many more. It’s incredibly difficult to teach this to an employee, which is why employers find it so valuable.||Minimize your distractions. Distractions are the enemy of a good work ethic – so turn off those cell phone notifications and get focused on your next task!|
|As they say – communication is key! Communication skills are not only important at work, but in almost every aspect of life. Whatever the job is, you will need to communicate at some point, whether it’s with clients, customers, colleagues, employers or other companies. Communication isn’t just about how well you speak to others, it’s also about listening and understanding.||Try to listen to others more than you speak. If you’re always thinking about what you’re going to say next, you’re never truly listening!|
Critical Thinking / Problem Solving
|Critical thinking and problem solving go hand in hand. Employers expect you to be able to analyze situations, come up with solutions to problems, and make informed decisions. Soft skills that are related to critical thinking are things like creativity, flexibility, willingness to learn, and many more.||When solving problems, question your natural assumptions! Sometimes, the most important discoveries come from challenging what you thought was true about a problem/situation.|
|Even though you may not be the boss at your job or even the top of your department, having leadership skills is still so important. Employers want to know that, when necessary, their employee can step up to the plate and set an example for the rest of the team.||Always be passionate about what you’re doing! This will inspire others and is one of the key traits that true leaders possess.|
|Your positive attitude goes a long way. Employers want people who bring a positive attitude to the workplace. It will rub off on people in the workplace just as negative ones will, and who wants a negative work environment?||Fake it till you make it! This may not sound like the best piece of advice, but the reality is that we aren’t always in our best mood. Don’t let that bad mood drive your entire day – people will notice.|
|Another corny phrase coming your way… Teamwork makes the dream work! Employers want (and need) candidates who can work well with others. Whether you’re applying for a job with a lot of team projects or not, you should be able to work effectively with the people around you.||Don’t be a lone wolf! Push yourself out of your comfort zone and involve yourself with other team members when it’s appropriate.|
There are SO many soft skills out there, and while it’s understandable (and normal!) to not excel in all of them, the key is to continuously work on improving them. It starts by understanding how valuable these skills are, identifying the ones you excel in, and working on the ones that you don’t.
Like we said – employers these days are really on the look-out for individuals who have a strong set of soft skills, so be sure to flaunt them as much as possible by adding them to your resume, cover letters, and showing them off during interviews (Pro tip: West-Can HR Solutions provides resume critiquing and mock interviews to teach you how to showcase your soft skills to potential employers – give us a call today to learn more!).
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If you’d like to see a more comprehensive list of soft skills, please visit https://www.thebalancecareers.com/list-of-soft-skills-2063770.
(Note: image credit: Picture by Career Builder)