Your hard skills play a role in getting you the interview, but they won’t get you the job by themselves. These days, employers look for candidates who already have good soft skills. Why? Soft skills make people more effective on the job, for one. They’re also very hard to teach and all but impossible to teach quickly. So, which soft skills are most likely to get you hired?
Businesses don’t really employ individuals. They employ teams. Businesses expect the people on these teams to work together to achieve their goals. People who routinely show up late, for example, don’t make good team players. Showing up late inconveniences everyone on their team. People who make useful suggestions often make excellent team players.
Takeaway: Think of examples of times when you were a good team player that you can discuss in interviews.
Good communication doesn’t mean tossing out $10 words all the time or talking at length. Most people have worked with someone who talked a lot but never made a clear point. Good communication means you can explain your thoughts or the steps in a process clearly. Businesses place a premium on good communication skills because they make the work run smoother.
No matter how well-run a business is, problems still happen. Equipment breaks down or people call out at the last second. All too often, work slows or even stops in these situations. If you can think your way around these kinds of issues, businesses want you.
Takeaway: Not confident about your problem-solving skills? Take up a hobby like playing an instrument or learning a second language to boost those skills.
Getting feedback can prove a trying experience for you and your supervisor. Poorly delivered feedback can feel like open criticism and put people on the defensive. Even when poorly delivered, the whole point of feedback is improvement. Businesses want employees who can take feedback in the spirit of improving performance. Learn that skill and you move right up the list of preferred candidates.
You can’t avoid workplace conflict. If you’re aiming for a supervisory or leadership role, however, start honing your conflict management skills. Businesses shell out more than $350 billion a year dealing with conflict in the workplace. If you can help reduce those costs even a little by preventing problems from escalating, you become an invaluable resource.
Takeaway: If you don’t already know conflict management techniques, start learning and practicing them.
Practice Your Soft Skills
Businesses know they probably can’t teach you soft skills fast enough to make a real difference. That means you must work on them yourself ahead of time. Look for hobbies or volunteering opportunities that let you practice soft skills in a low-stakes situation.