If we all lived and worked in a vacuum, and did not have to deal with other people, the only thing that would matter would be our “hard skills” – things like computer programming, or auto repair, or writing. We could just take our task assignments, finish them, and go on to the next task, holed up in our little private office or place of work.
Unfortunately, our world of work just doesn’t operate in that manner. Even remote workers who work out of their homes, such as freelance writers for companies like Trust My Paper must function as members of a team with whom they must interact and communicate successfully. In the famous words of poet John Donne, “No man is an island.”
More and more, employers are prioritizing those skills that have nothing to do with an employee’s expertise in his specific skill set. They are looking for a broader set of skills, often called “soft skills,” that increase the value of job candidates to their organizations. Their thinking is this: employees can always learn more “hard skills,” through training and education. But soft skills are more internal personality characteristics that allow an employee to successfully operate within the human culture and environment of an organization. And they are “testing” for these skills during the interview process.
What are the Key Soft Skills?
We have all encountered people, in our work or personal environments which seem to get along with everyone, who seem to know others really well, who seem to be the people that others want to associate with and go to for help or advice. By the same token, we know people whom we can only describe as “difficult.” They just don’t seem to get along with a lot of people; they aren’t friendly, and they don’t get outside of themselves to reach out to others and develop relationships. They may even be thought of as rude. And, in the workplace, no one feels comfortable interacting with this individual. These two extremes point to who has soft skills and who does not.
So, let’s define what those soft skills are. And as these are defined, take a look in the mirror and see how you measure up. It’s essential because employers want to see soft skills in the workplace, as much as they want those hard skills.
1. Being aware of yourself first.
Do some self-assessment. Are you genuinely like to develop relationships with other people? Do you want to interact with others on a personal level? Are you believe that you can have successful and meaningful relationships with others? Do you care about and can you muster up empathy for others around you?
2. What’s your level of self-confidence?
People with higher levels of confidence tend to be more outgoing, while those who have lower self-confidence levels are more reticent. If you know that you lack in self-confidence, what is its source? This is one internal soft skill that you can work to correct. And as you gain more confidence, you will reach out to others and be a willing participant in the give and take of your work environment.
3. Ability to accept criticism.
This is one of the most essential soft skills for employment. You will have someone to answer to – a supervisor, a manager, a team leader. And you are not perfect. You are bound to make mistakes, and these will be pointed out to you by your superiors. How do you respond to criticism? Do you become defensive and angry? Or are you willing to accept the fact that you goofed, apologize, and work to make it right? A closely aligned soft skill is resilience – can you bounce back and move forward?
4. Can you persevere?
All work will involve challenges, some of which will be quite tough. Do you tend to “throw in the towel” when the going gets rough, or are you willing to buckle down and stick to that challenge until you surmount it? Employers want employees who will persevere.
5. Can you manage your emotions?
Everyone becomes frustrated, angry, and stressed during their daily work. When this happens, how do you respond? Do you have methods to curb those emotions and “even yourself out” so that your product continues?
6. Can you collaborate with others successfully?
The term “team player” is bantered about rather freely these days and is often listed as one of the soft skills for resume creation. But it is crucial, and you should be able to present evidence of your collaborative successes.
7. How well do you communicate?
Communication involves two processes – sending and receiving. You will want to provide evidence that you are incredibly good at making your points clear but that you also a good listener because better decisions are made when everyone communicates openly. “In our business, communication is critical,” states Marie Fincher, Managing Director for Supreme Dissertations, “Our writers must develop rapid connections with clients, and listening skills cannot be overrated. They have to ask the right questions, be certain of the answers, and then, go to work to meet that client’s need.”
8. Are you adaptable and flexible?
Things change, and organizations can shift focus. A project may be put on hold because a new, more urgent project has reared its head. Can you make that shift with your co-workers and make it without resentment or frustration? You may be pulled from a task or project because you are needed elsewhere. Even though you were enjoying your work, can you re-calibrate quickly and with negative emotions in check?
9. Do you value influence or power?
When you are in leadership roles, what is your approach to those beneath you? Do you tend to use energy as you delegate tasks and impose decisions? Or do you work to influence your subordinates by being a role model and by providing solid reasons for the choices you make? A part of this also involves your team in problem-solving and decision-making so that they feel invested.
10. Are You a good negotiator?
Negotiations don’t occur just between parties to contracts or countries hammering an agreement or treaty. They occur in the workplace all of the time. When there is conflict or disagreements, compromises must be worked out. And these require negotiation skills. If you have evidence of your success in negotiating, you want a potential employer to know this.
Review This List
If you look carefully at these ten soft skills, you should conclude that they are all a part of that more significant buzz term, “interpersonal skills.” Using that term on a resume or during an interview should be followed by specific evidence of any of these skills. That evidence will give you credibility.