Soft skills: why are they so important?
Across all sectors and job types, candidates with strong soft skills are in high demand.
Sometimes referred to as ‘transferable skills’, soft skills are less specialised than hard skills, which are directly relevant to the job. Instead, soft skills are aligned with your personality and the interpersonal attributes you need to succeed in the workplace.
Employers value soft skills highly because they enable people to function and thrive in teams. So, regardless of the job you’re applying for, you need at least some soft skills!
You’ll often see job specs asking for strong verbal and non-verbal communication skills. Or a pro-active attitude and good time management. Here are some of the other key soft skills:
- A willingness to help out where needed, take on extra responsibilities and adapt quickly to change is highly valued in the workplace.
- If you are a good team player, you will know when to listen and when to lead and be receptive to the needs and responsibilities of others in the team.
- Problem-solving. The ability to approach a problem with a cool, level head and to find a suitable solution is a great advantage.
- Even if you are not directly managing others, you can show promising leadership skills by inspiring others and leading teams to success.
- The ability to persuade, exert influence and build a rapport with others are all useful soft skills when it comes to conflict resolution.
Demonstrating your skills
Soft skills could mean the difference between getting your dream role and not getting it.
Earlier in your career, transferable skills and potential often take precedence over professional experience, technical ability or specialist knowledge. This is particularly true of the recruitment process for graduate programmes.
Recruiters and employers won’t expect you to have all the qualifications and experience from the get-go. But they will want to see that you have attributes that will allow you to learn and grow in the role.
As such, it is crucial to consider what your soft skills are and how you might demonstrate them to a potential employer or recruiter.
Before applying for a job, make sure you thoroughly research the company and identify which of your soft skills are most relevant to the role.
Once you’ve identified your skills, you then want to make sure they stand out! But while you can show hard skills easily through qualifications, how do you prove your soft skills?
Try including your skills as keywords in your CV or cover letter and prepare to talk about them at interview. You should also reinforce any claims with examples to prove that it’s not all just talk.
Hard or technical skills are often more quantifiable and easier to learn than soft skills. But that also means they can be automated. Soft skills, on the other hand, are less likely to be computerised and are often transferable across careers and industries.
Plus, even as technology evolves, soft skills will still be essential for delivery. Computers and technology can do a lot. But they can’t mimic interpersonal attributes such as leadership, responsibility and self-motivation. Soft skills will, therefore, be crucial for future roles.
As you search for a new role, keep your resume updated to reflect soft skills most relevant to the jobs you’re applying for. Pay special attention to posts calling for soft skills or traits you possess, too.
Even if the job title isn’t a great fit or you don’t match the exact profile in a job description, you may find you have many of the required traits.