When reading a job descriptions you’ve noticed that a lot of employers next to demand of technical qualifications require a certain interpersonal skills such as problem solving, conflict resolution, team working, negotiation, creativity… Interpersonal skills are also referred to as people skills, life skills, transferable skills or SOFT skills. They are not just important for everyday communication and interpersonal relationships, but they can also land you a new job or promotion at work. Many employers and managers agree that your HARD skills (knowledge, technical qualifications) will get you through the door to an interview, but your soft skills will land you that job.
Hard skills are related to a professional knowledge, techniques and methods that allows us to work within our profession. Examples of hard skills are designing a logo, creating a website, injecting a vaccine and preparing a financial report. They can be measured and quantified. On the other side, soft skills make us capable to fit in and work effectively. They are hard to measure and quantify, almost impossible.
Investopedia defines soft skills as “character traits and interpersonal skills that characterize a person’s relationships with other people.” MindTools defines soft skills as “your work ethic, your attitude, your communication skills, your emotional intelligence and a whole host of other personal attributes.” Simply put, they are they way you communicate, the way you approach to a problem solving, adapt to a new environment and changes, work in team… We start to develop interpersonal skills early in the childhood, usually subconsciously. Many of these skill can be innate, but also developed and gained through experience and practice. The best thing about them is that you don’t need a college degree or other certifications to posses them. You can start working on them immediately. Just as hard skills they can be taught.
There are many articles and researches published on this topic, that shows us the importance of this subject. And one of things they have in common is a list of soft skills that keeps popping up. Here are some of them, the most important ones that you need to develop and work on:
Almost every job out there requires you to have good communication skills. First, it is important that you can deliver a message in straightforward and clear, but polite way, regardless you are communicating with customers, business partner or colleague, in person, on the phone or writing an email. The way you present information needs to be clear, understandable and succinct. On the other side, communication is a two way street. Good communication skills require of you to know when to be silent. You need to learn how to listen to other person with understanding, patiently and without interrupting.
Aristotle was right that “Man is a social animal.”We often find ourselves personally and professionally in groups. That require of us to know how to behave and position in them. We need to know when to be a leaders and when a followers. Employers always want a team players in their teams, people who can easily work with others and build healthy work relationships. Working together with others to get a job done is a vital part of any job. Wouldn’t you rather want for a colleague person with whom you can easily make an agreement, split work, communicate and rely on him/her to get a job done?
The way companies are doing business today is changing every day, due to competitive marketplace and growing technologies. You also need to be flexible and adopt to new situations in order to help your company move forward. Getting a job done sometimes means that you need to step outside your job description. If you are willing to do so, then you are something every employer is looking for.
Problems are inevitable part of any job. You should learn hot to deal with them, without getting a panic attacks. Every employer, without exception, is looking for a workers who are able to effectively and efficiently find solutions to daily challenges. If there is a situation which you can’t solve you should turn for advice of other colleagues or superiors. This won’t show your lack of competence or knowledge. Instead, you are proving that work is at first place for you and that you are a team player. These kind of employees are among most valued ones in every company.
Conflict resolution goes head to head with problem solving, and they are among most important social skills. How will you solve conflict at your workplace, among friends or at home can determine a future of the relationship. Conflicts at workplace can decrease productivity and potentially lead to a hostile work environment. And if you want a promotion to a management position, your ability to resolve conflicts is going to be one of the vital skills evaluated.
Getting your work done on time, never being late to work and meetings, proves that you are reliable and responsible employee who will get a job done in time to meet deadlines. Time management is a key to successfully balance your personal and professional life. Everyone has their own, personal trick to manage time. So it’s up to you to find your method.
Creativity is not just reserved for art or design jobs. You should be able to think outside the box and give a fresh approach in your work place. Think what solution will save your company money, attract new customers, help you work more effectively… Success is often found when you get creative, when you get off the beaten trail.
When you are writing your resumes and cover letters it is important to reference your skills. The same when going to an interview. You should be prepared to questions such as:
- Can you tell me about time when you worked in a group on urgent task?
- Tell me about the last time manager rejected one of your ideas and how did you react?
- What is your biggest work failure and what achievement? What did you learn from them?
- Have you ever had to fire someone? Why?
- How do you handle working with people who annoy you?
These and similar questions are there to evaluate your soft skills, although they can’t be quantified, as sad before. If you have a technical qualifications, hiring managers can decide whether to give you a job or not based on your communication skills, self-awareness, confidence, politeness. So practice to boost up your soft skills and to increase your chances of getting hired or promoted. In the end, actions speak louder than words.