There was a time when employers depended solely upon the qualifications in your resume to decide if you were a good fit for their company. Those days are now being replaced with a view to taking a more holistic approach when choosing employees or considering promotions within the workplace. At the forefront of this innovative change in the business world are soft skills.
What are soft skills?
Soft skills are non-technical and transferable skills that bring value to the workplace but are not tied to the qualifications in your resume. Skills such as communication, teamwork, and creative problem-solving are examples of soft skills that can mark you out as a valuable employee. People with the ability to work on and improve their soft skills and then apply them in the workplace will see that their careers progress faster or that the promotions they desire are easier to land.
Why are they so important?
Your soft skills can make the difference between you being a shoo-in candidate for a promotion and being an also-ran. Recruitment staff is no longer just looking for candidates with the right degrees. They want candidates who can successfully apply their education to get the job done right. Workplace values and education have undergone a shift whereby the day of the pencil-pusher is now over.
With the rise in consultants across all major and minor fields of business, recruiters have realized that experience is just as valuable as qualifications. They are looking for leaders within their business whom they can invest in to drive the future of the company.
What are some examples of soft skills?
If they are of such importance in the business world, then it should be clear what they are. But a surprising number of employees are unaware of what their soft skills are. You may have them and not even realize it. Effective communication is the number one soft skill recruiters are looking for in candidates.
Leadership skills are seen in your ability to get along with people and motivate your fellow team members or staff to achieve goals on a time basis. Other soft skills that can help with this are interpersonal communication, emotional intelligence, and approachability.
Even responsibility is a highly valued soft skill that many people do not realize counts as one. To be a responsible individual, you have to be trustworthy, and you have to be disciplined. You should know how to take responsibility for your decisions and actions. There are many more, but the best thing about soft skills is that they can all be learned or improved upon with some hard work and dedication on your part.
How can you learn soft skills?
It can be as simple as taking a class or finding a hobby. A surprising number of hobbies can lead to a sharpening of your soft skills. Something as fun as taking singing classes today can lead to improved self-discipline, responsibility, and time management in the future. Musicians have to manage practice schedules, adapt to change on the fly, and learn how to meet set goals punctually.
If you prefer less of a time commitment, you can just pick up a jigsaw puzzle. No matter how many pieces are in your puzzle, the very act of working on it to completion can improve your cognitive ability. Regular play engages multiple abilities such as cognitive speed, visual scanning, and perceptual reasoning.
These are all transferable to the workplace and very valuable ones in which to upskill yourself.
How to identify what you need to learn?
Reflect on yourself and think about what your existing soft skills are so that you can identify what you can upskill. Perhaps you will find that the thing standing between where you are and where you want to be is a skill set that you can easily learn.
Observe other people whom you admire, such as a manager or a consultant. See if you can identify what makes them so effective in their roles. This is a simple way to identify the soft skills they use, which you, too, can learn and begin applying.
Many companies are actively encouraging their employees to pick up hobbies and activities that can keep them sharp and help them improve their soft skills. If your company is offering you this opportunity, you should embrace it wholeheartedly. Not only can upskilling yourself make you a better employee, but it will also make you more confident. It can help you achieve your ambitions. Overall, it is a win-win proposition.