Imagine that you applied for an administrative assistant position and your resume made it to a short stack of two that are deemed worthy of an interview. You and your competitor have the same job history, the same education, and the same computer skills. The position requires a person with a calming personality who can keep a level head at all times, which, as a former therapist, you excel at. Your competition is a fitness instructor on the side who keeps her students hopping with her high strung personality. Who do you think is a better fit? You may have heard or read the term “soft skills” surrounding the hiring process and in employee evaluations. These are skills not taught in schools—they are personality or character traits that can make, or break, your qualifications for a position. Let’s take a look at the top 8 soft skills, and why they’re so important:
- Good communicator. Good communication is an important soft skill, in all aspects of life, and especially when on the job. Strong written and verbal communication skills allow messages to be heard and understood. Without clear messaging, ideas fall apart, projects aren’t completed, and interpersonal relationships can suffer.
- Team player. Not everyone you work with will be just like you; some will have difficult personalities, different skill sets, and varying motivating drivers. The ability to work effectively with people of all different personalities and traits puts you in a more positive light than someone who prefers to work autonomously.
- Problem solver/critical thinker. Some people give up when a challenge is presented, while others embrace a good puzzle. Being able to come up with seemingly-impossible solutions or thinking about problems logically and clearly will set you apart.
- Interpersonal skills. People who get along with others, accept others for who they are without judgment, are empathetic, and will come to a co-worker’s aid are an asset to any employer.
- Active listener. There’s a big difference between listening and being an active listener. An active listener learns from what he or she is hearing, asks questions for clarification, and puts what they learn to good use on the job. Practice this soft skill.
- Enjoy learning. Some people are content doing the same job day in, day out. Others want to learn about different positions, different people, and why things work the way they do. Employees who enjoy learning are often those who grow within a company, using their natural curiosity to guide them along.
- Flexibility. You might see a resume that refers to a “can-do” attitude. This describes a person with flexibility—someone who can shuffle around their work to accommodate changes in a schedule or step in to help out whenever needed while maintaining a positive attitude and without getting rattled.
- Effective time management. We all know that a person who plans their day poorly and always misses deadlines or has to put in extra hours to get the work done. Effective time managers are able to complete their tasks on time with less stress and more flexibility.
Read each job description carefully and look for clues about the soft skills that are important to an employer. Work your soft skills into your resume wherever you can, and give examples during your interview of how you have used your soft skills on the job. If you are vying for a promotion, remind your supervisor of your soft skills; after all, they are often the differentiating factor between you and another candidate. If you are working with a Leddy Group Staffing Manager, ask him or her what soft skills are important in the job you are interested in and use that knowledge to get a step ahead of your competition.
You can also reference our other blog topic, 5 Important Soft Skills Every Manufacturing Candidate Needs