Important Soft Skills for Workplace Success
When applying for a job, many people tend to emphasize their hard skills – the specific knowledge and abilities required for a particular job. These are typically skills that can be clearly defined and measured. It’s also necessary to highlight the most important soft skills you possess, to show why you’re the best candidate for the job.
Soft skills are much more difficult to define and measure – they are the interpersonal or “people” skills that help you to successfully interact with others in the workplace.
Regardless of the job, you have to interact effectively with supervisors and people above and below you on the work chart, as well as others such as customers, vendors, patients, students, etc.
Companies seek candidates with both types of skills when hiring for most positions. That's because if you have a negative attitude, can't get along with others, don’t communicate well, don't work well as part of a team, and aren't able to think creatively and critically, it may not matter how well educated and competent you are. You need to have some set of people skills to get along in any job, not just those working directly with the public. Indeed.com, the leading job site, has shared the most valuable soft skills for job seekers and employees.
Top Soft Skills Employers Want
Here are the top seven most important soft skills to have for both interviewing and in the workplace, from Indeed's Director of Recruiting, Mike Steinerd:
- Acting as a team player – this means not only being cooperative, but also displaying strong leadership skills when necessary.
- Flexibility – this is an extremely valuable asset to employees. Those who can adapt to any situation are dependable no matter what's thrown at them.
- Effective communication – this is paramount to almost any job. Communication involves articulating oneself well, being a good listener and using appropriate body language.
- Problem-solving and resourcefulness – no matter what your profession, these skills are critical when unexpected issues inevitably arise.
- Accepting feedback – not only accepting feedback gracefully but also applying that feedback, fosters professional growth.
- Confidence is key – that being said, it's also important to always have the knowledge and skills to support self-assurance. By being confident and capable, your supervisors, employees, and clients will believe in what you are saying.
- Creative thinking – being able to come up with unique solutions or alternatives is invaluable; it drives innovation and increases efficiency.
Employment Skills Differ by Job
When you are seeking a leadership position, either as a manager, or a member of a team, you will want to highlight different assets than if you are seeking a technical position, for example. The soft skills you need to be an effective leader will include things like being able to delegate and offer constructive criticism.
Information Technology positions require soft skills such as creativity and the ability to present ideas and solutions to individuals as well as groups. Strong communications skills, both written and oral are an important asset in virtually any field, at every level.
How to Let Employers Know the Skills You Have
When you're writing resumes and cover letters, it's essential to reference the skills the employer is seeking in your job application materials. The same is true when you're interviewing. Review the job posting, and be prepared to give specific examples of the skills you have (both hard and soft) that are a match for the job requirements.
Be sure to present your soft skills to the hiring manager during interviews and focus on keeping your skills top-notch on the job:
- Show off your positive attitude and enthusiasm throughout the interview.
- Don't just say that you have the skills the company needs – prove it to them
- Prepare thoroughly for your interview, and have a few examples of instances when you used your soft skills effectively.
- Know enough about the position and the company to converse comfortably and knowledgeably with the interviewer. Actions can genuinely speak louder than words, especially in a competitive workplace.