Soft Skills are More Important than You Think

You’ve spent a lot of your time pursuing certifications, getting experience, and developing technical skills, but have you thought about your soft skills?  Often, at the interview stage, employers have already screened for the hard skills, and they are meeting with candidates to determine if they have the necessary soft skills.  How can you make sure that employers will have confidence in your soft skills?  First you need to have a good understanding of what they are looking for:

What are soft skills?

Soft skills relate to the way that you manage yourself and your relationships with others.  They are your personal and interpersonal skills.

Why are soft skills important?

Soft skills are essential in every job.  With each position, you need to relate to coworkers, supervisors, and internal or external customers.  During every interview, the employer will be evaluating your soft skills, either explicitly or implicitly.  If you are lacking in soft skills, it will hold you back.  You can’t escape it, you need to develop your soft skills.

Which soft skills are the most important?

In order to decide which soft skills to focus on, you should take a look at the job advertisement.  In most cases, they will outline which soft skills are essential for the particular position.  For example, a sales position may require strong presentation skills, whereas an administrative assistant position may need someone with excellent organizational skills.  Once you determine which soft skills are important for the position, customize your resume and cover letter, and prepare your examples for the interview.  Also, there are certain soft skills that are important in every position:

Interpersonal Skills-You need to be able to relate to people and to work in a team environment.  An employer does not want to hire someone who will make problems with the other employees or cause customer complaints.

Problem Solving Skills- Every employer wants to hire a new employee who has the ability to solve problems.  A good problem solver will free the manager’s time and help increase productivity.  This is every hiring manager’s dream.

Organizational Skills- For most positions, you do not need to be super organized, but employers are looking for a person who can organize their time and their work to the point where they can operate efficiently and effectively.

Communication Skills–  Effective communication skills are necessary for every position.  You need strong written and verbal communication skills (in person and over the phone).  With the exception of positions that have very little contact with other people, if your communication skills are weak, it is unlikely that you will pass the interview stage.

Flexibility- All employers are looking for employees who are willing to be flexible.  In this job market, employers are able to hold out for employees who will go the extra mile to get the job done.  Most employers see attitude as extremely important when making hiring decisions because they believe that they can teach the employee hard skills, but no amount of training will change an employee’s attitude

How to Convince Employers that You Have the Required Soft Skills

Once you determine which soft skills the employer is likely looking for, you need to persuade the employer that you possess those skills.  The best way to do this is by finding examples from your experience.  Don’t just tell the employers that you have the skills, prove it to them with examples.

As a job seeker, you should be devoting at least as much time to your soft skills as you do to your hard skills.  When screening resumes, employers are looking for technical skills.  When conducting interviews, employers are looking for a good fit for the organization. By developing strong examples of your soft skills, you will allow the employer to visualize you actually doing the job, and will present yourself as a natural choice for the position.

(Written by: Karen Bivand, Photo From: Rawich / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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