5 Social Skills for Workplace Success

Coworkers talking and laughing
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What are social skills, and why are they essential for workplace success? Social skills, also called “interpersonal skills,” are those we use to interact and communicate with other people. These skills include both verbal skills (the way you speak to other people) and nonverbal skills (your body language, gestures, and eye contact).

Why Employers Value Social Skills

Social skills are important soft skills — the personal qualities (as opposed to professional hard skills acquired through education, training, or job experience) that are key to interacting well with others. Almost every job requires social skills. If you work on a team, you need to be able to get along with others. If you work with clients, you must listen attentively to their questions and concerns. If you are a manager, you will be called upon to motivate employees.

Even if your job does not involve interacting with other people very much, you still need to possess a few social skills to interact with your employer and colleagues.

Because social skills are so important, almost every employer looks for job candidates with these competencies. It is therefore vital that you demonstrate that you have strong social skills in your resume, cover letter, and interview.

Here is a list of the top five social skills that employers seek in candidates for employment. Also have a look at the subsequent tips on how to demonstrate that you have social skills throughout your job search.

Top 5 Social Skills

1. Empathy

Empathy is a very important skill. To interact well with others, you must be able to understand how they are feeling. Empathy is especially critical when dealing with clients who come to you with questions or problems. You need to express genuine concern for their issues, as well as helping to solve them.

2. Cooperation

Cooperation is especially important when you work on a team, where you will be required to partner with others to reach a common goal. However, even if you do not work on a team, cooperation is still necessary on those occasions when you are asked to work alongside colleagues to help achieve the goals of your organization.

3. Verbal and Written Communication

Verbal communication is the ability to express yourself using clear language that others can understand. You’ll need solid verbal communication skills whenever you speak to others in person or on the phone. Written communication comes into play whenever you write an email, text, letter, report, or presentation – here, appropriate grammar, spelling, and format are necessary.

4. Listening

Another important communication skill that helps you interact well with others is listening. You need to be able to listen carefully to what your employer tells you to do, to what your colleagues say in a meeting, and to what your employees ask of you. You must listen to clients’ concerns, and express to them that you have understood them. People respond well to others when they feel they are being heard.

5. Nonverbal Communication

While verbal communication is an important skill, so is nonverbal communication. Through your body language, eye contact, and facial expressions, you can express that you are an empathetic person who carefully listens to others. 

How to Show Your Social Skills During a Job Search

Try to demonstrate that you have all of these social skills throughout your job search process. Firstly, be sure to incorporate the social skill words discussed here (“empathy,” “cooperation,” “verbal and written communication,” “listening,” “nonverbal communication”) into your resume. Good places to use these keywords are in your work history or in your resume summary (if you have one).

Secondly, you can use these words in your cover letter. In the body of your letter, mention one or two of these skills, providing specific examples of a time when you demonstrated them at work.

Thirdly, you can use these skill words in an interview. Make sure you have at least one example for a time you utilized each of the top five skills listed here. Of course, each job will require different skills and experiences, so make sure you read the job description carefully and focus on the skills listed by the employer.

Interviews also provide the perfect forum to demonstrate your interpersonal talents.

Make sure to use nonverbal communication that conveys your interest in the interview, the employer, and the job. Speak clearly, and listen carefully to the questions being asked. Displaying these interpersonal skills in person is the best way to convince an employer that you have what it takes to excel in the position they’re offering.