Do You Have the Required Soft Skills?

Which skills make you stand out from the crowd?  Many job seekers are so focused on their technical skills that they don’t even think about their soft skills.  Soft skills include both self management and people management skills and they can be just as important as your hard skills when you are looking for a job.  Here are some common soft skills that you can include on your resume and cover letter:

Teamwork:  Since most positions require that you work well with others, it is essential that you show the employer that you can make a strong contribution to a team.
Flexibility:  In today’s business environment, employees are expected to do whatever needs to be done.  It is no longer acceptable to say that something is not in your job description or that you have to leave right at 5pm.  Sometimes you need to go above and beyond the call of duty for the good of the company.
Problem Solving:  Managers don’t like to be constantly bothered with problems.  They would prefer to hire employees that will take the initiative to make decisions as needed.  When you come to your manager with a problem, also offer a solution.  Before long, you will probably be able to address these difficult situations on your own.
Accepting Feedback.  Nobody expects you to be perfect, but your manager is expecting you to improve.  The only way to get better is by accepting and acting on the feedback that you receive.  It hurts to hear that you made a mistake, but try to think of it as an opportunity to improve your skills.
Organizational Skills.  The ability to plan and prioritize your work can make a big difference in your level of success.  When you are organized, you are able to accomplish more and you are less likely to make costly mistakes.
Customer Service.  No matter what type of work you do, you have a customer.  Whether your customer is a person who is buying a product from your company or an employee who is requesting a report, it is important that you treat them courteously.
Emotional Intelligence.  The ability to work well with others requires a certain level of emotional intelligence.  You need to intuitively know how to communicate with people and to understand the verbal and non-verbal messages that people are sending you.
Conflict Resolution.  When you are working with other people, sooner or later you are going to run into a conflict.  It is essential that you are able to address workplace conflicts professionally.
Stress Management.  We all face stress in our work and our lives, but some of us handle it better than others.  Make yourself aware of the types of situations that trigger your stress and be ready with strategies to help you manage it.
Intercultural Competence.  In today’s working environment, we are required to work with people who are coming from a multitude of backgrounds.  Many of these people may have traditions and beliefs that are drastically different from your own.  To work well with everyone, you need to be willing and able to conduct yourself in a way that is respectful to people from all backgrounds.
Since there are a lot of different types of soft skills, it is best to focus on the ones that closely relate to your target position.  A good approach is to select a few and to find examples of when you demonstrated each one.
(Written by: Karen Bivand)

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