So, you’ve probably heard the term “soft skills” come up quite a few times in your job search. What exactly does it mean and what is it’s significance to you?
To simplify, soft skills are behavioral in nature like communication skills, teamwork and problem solving, while “hard skills” are more technical in nature like Photoshop, Microsoft Office and C++. Think of it this way: It’s like when someone says you are “street smart” instead of “book smart.” Being book smart (hard skills), can imply a limited amount of knowledge. It can have a negative connotation to it because most people use it to describe someone’s theoretical knowledge without experience. Street smart (soft skills), on the other hand, has a positive connotation to it. When you hear someone is street smart, you imagine they have experience and know what it takes to get things done. You definitely feel like you can learn something from them.
However, when you think of the term “Soft skills” it implies weakness. Subconsciously, recruiters associate that term with a less important set of skills to have and brush it away. This is a huge problem because many recruiters know it’s much harder to teach behavioral skills than technical skills. According to this infographic, 56 percent of HR professionals value soft skills while 44 percent value hard skills. Think of soft skills as the “street smarts” that you want to show off to recruiters.
There’s a huge emphasis on culture fit nowadays. Companies want to invest in people that want to invest in them as well. In an effort to avoid turnover, recruiters have placed an importance on hiring more qualified candidates. The biggest benefit to having a strong set of behavioral skills is to show recruiters that you have what it takes to add to their team and help them grow.
According to a study completed by The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) the following soft skills were found to be most valuable for employers, in order of importance:
- Ability to work in a team structure
- Ability to make decisions and solve problems
- Ability to communicate verbally with people inside and outside an organization
- Ability to plan, organize, and prioritize work
- Ability to obtain and process information
Let’s take a look at how they translate into the workplace!
Being able to effectively work in teams will speak to your versatile working abilities and be seen as a great strength for companies.
- Teamwork creates synergy, where the common goal is shared amongst all individuals and goes beyond an individual’s agenda.
- Teamwork fosters flexibility and responsiveness to change which is important to most companies nowadays
- Teamwork creates a flat hierarchy giving everyone involved an equal opportunity to succeed
- Teamwork improves overall productivity. It gives you access to more resources and allows you to bounce ideas off others when you might need inspiration
- Teamwork suggests a strong culture. A strong sense of unity amongst employees can prolong forward momentum and overcome obstacles resulting in a more successful organization
In this study completed by University of Chicago School of Business, research illustrates that happiness is more derived from the freedom to make decisions than having money.
- If there are no problems, then there is something wrong. Many successful people are problem seekers and not problem avoiders. This is because they look at problems as an opportunity to make something better; a very valuable trait to have for companies.
- A problem is defined by where you currently are and where you want to be. A great opportunity is presented for you to think outside of the box and use the resources you have available to help you get to your intended goal.
- Problem solving shows you are a hopeful person. When we hope for something it presents a challenge to accomplish that goal and challenge is a synonym for the word “problem”. That optimism is what companies are looking for.
“You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across, your ideas won’t get you anywhere” - Lee Lacocca
- Most conflict is the result of a misunderstanding. Many people don’t know how to effectively communicate because more often than not, they listen to argue, not to understand. That is the biggest mistake in communication. Bridging conflict and coming to a mutual conclusion is an extremely valuable tool to have in your shed. You never know when it can come in handy. Check out this post on how to effectively resolve conflict.
- Learning how to effectively communicate can allow you to accomplish more. In sales, for example, it is a really valuable to be persuasive. The best way to be persuasive is to communicate the needs of your client and address them in a way that makes sense. Success will follow those who can effectively accomplish this and result in trust and returned business from the client.
- Cultivate and generate better relationships amongst clients and coworkers. When you refrain from telling people what to do and allow them to figure it out on their own as a result of your guided conversation, they will learn to adopt your ideas in the future. They will see you as an authority on advice and be more willing to listen to you as well.
- Ultimately, you will be better liked. People like people who can understand where they are coming from and feel as though they can talk to them. All that really means is communicating with them properly.
Organization is about keeping things in proper order and how practicing effective organization skills will result in more productivity as well as gaining control of your days and priorities.
- Efficiency is one of the greatest benefits to having good organizational skills. A highly organized individual will spend less time correcting mistakes and searching for information they may already have, thus effectively using their time and being more productive throughout the day.
- Tracking progress is another great reason to be organized. Getting in the habit of keeping record of expenditures, resources and other things can help you to read between the lines and make better decisions.
- Good organizational skills start with small tasks but eventually will be amongst the most important skills you can have as a manager. An organized manager will be much more successful with generating productivity, managing employees and ultimately running a more efficient business.
Everyone processes information differently. Are you a visual, auditory or Kinesthetic processor? Check out the differences here and determine which one suits you best.
- The ability to properly process information is essential for productivity. Understanding the needs of the tasks given to you will better help you get it done right the first time.
- You will avoid being a liability. Not processing information properly can result in making significant mistakes that can cost your company lots of money, time and other resources as well.
- You will earn your autonomy a lot quicker if you display a knack for getting a good grasp on things from the beginning. This will result in your management team trusting you with more important tasks in the future.
- Lastly, obtaining all the information that you need will show that you are ready to take the initiative to do your job without relying on others to provide you with that information.
Having technical skills can help you get your foot in the door as many recruiters rarely consider candidates that have not met specific technical requirements. However, soft skills let the rest of you inside and help keep you there. You can show off your “soft” skills to companies looking to hire by engaging in projects and challenges that show off all the things that are unique to you and more with ProSky.
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