In this guest post, Casey Welch, from Tallo, discusses the sometimes overlooked soft skills that hiring managers look for when recruiting candidates and how to improve your own!
Although experience, certifications, and expertise are vital when you’re just starting on your career path, they’re not the only things that matter. In fact, employers look for “soft skills” as much as they look for hard ones. It’s not hard to see why. While your experience and know-how color the quality of your work, your personality makes you a desirable team member. We’re covering this often-overlooked but essential career advice in this helpful guide.
So What Are Soft Skills?
Soft skills are the set of personality traits and attitudes that make you a reliable, professional, and enjoyable team player in real-world situations. Specifically, they are the personality attributes that contribute to your work style, such as your work ethic, your ability to lead others, and your positive attitude. These skills contrast the measurable hard skills you earned in college, trade school, or during your on-the-job training, such as your abilities in math, reading, or writing. Think of hard skills as the bare minimum you need to get a job in your chosen field, and soft skills as the things that’ll actually get you hired relatively quickly.
Do Soft Skills Really Matter?
Given the fact that they’re, well—soft—these skills seem like a whole lot of fluff. Do they really even matter?
The answer is yes, and studies confirm it.
Employers know that soft skills lead to an increase in productivity and problem-solving ability, which results in a positive outcome for their daily objectives. Indeed, you need soft skills even in the most technical fields, including the key ones listed below.
Your future boss wants to see that you’ll be able to take the reins if necessary and potentially advance into a leadership role in the future. Taking initiative and having the confidence to lead will boost your chances of getting hired.
Contrary to popular belief, creative thinking isn’t just for creative professionals. It’s required for a number of professional problem-solving tasks and leads to employee bonding and higher levels of productivity.
This one’s obvious. The “every man for himself” attitude will cause problems in virtually every single job role while being a team player will contribute to more positive outcomes. The ability to work as a team is crucial in all fields—from big software development projects to complex construction jobs.
4. Work Ethic
You know how they say half the job is showing up? We think it’s more like 75 percent! The ability to show up every day with a positive, ready-to-work attitude will help secure your job in the long-run and is a highly desirable soft skill . Work ethic also means riding out a task or project even after you’ve lost interest or things get tough.
Things change often in most professions, fields, and workplaces. You have to be game to go with the flow if you want to show your value at work. Being too rigid only slows down everyone else’s process, making flexibility is essential.
What makes a good communicator in the workplace? He or she is someone who can convey important information clearly, respectfully, and openly. This includes everything from writing tactful email responses to handling difficult client calls that require clear explanations to remote workplace collaboration.
Attitude is everything! Keeping a positive, measured attitude through all things—even those especially tough times when things aren’t going your way—helps ensure that your team stays on track and shares the same goal.
8. Emotional Intelligence
This soft skill refers to a person’s ability to recognize and comprehend the emotions of themselves and others. Especially important in management, high emotional intelligence can lead to better work relationships and higher levels of engagement among employees.
Similarly, empathy—the ability to share the feelings of someone else—can help improve interpersonal relationships at work. Empathy leads to workplace bonding and the desire to help one another, which ensures a happier workforce.
10. Decision Making
We do it thousands of times a day, but poor decision-making is a soft skill that holds many professionals back each day. Good decision-makers look at problems from every angle and thoroughly think through solutions. They tend to be self-confident and show strong leadership skills.
Being aware of your own limitations, challenges, and areas where you need work will ensure that you’re always improving. At the same time, self-awareness of your good qualities leads to more self-confidence, which in turn can lead to better quality work.
Many overachievers struggle with this one, but it’s an excellent soft skill to improve over time. Collaborating with others can make big jobs more enjoyable, more efficient, and more all-around successful.
How to Improve Soft Skills
So now that you know you need them, how do you get them? The truth is that, as corny as it sounds, we all have these capabilities within us. It’s just a matter of zeroing in on them and bringing them out. While everyone’s strengths are different—you might be a purely logical thinker who’s an incredible decision-maker but lack natural empathy, for example—simply knowing the areas where you lack will help you become self-aware enough that you can work on improving yourself.
If you’re job-hunting, the important thing to remember is that hiring managers aren’t just combing through your resume looking for certifications, degrees, and experience. Yes, your fluency in that industry-specific software suite is extremely important, but others can learn it. Conversely, not everyone can easily acquire new personality traits and soft skills. Simply knowing them and keeping them in mind will help you get ahead during the hiring process.
Casey Welch is the Co-founder and CEO of Tallo, a digital connection platform and app. Casey comes from an extensive background in technology and education. Before co-founding Tallo, he held leadership positions with NorthTech Partners, Inc. and Stimulus Engineering Services as their Director of Business & Technology Development. Prior to that he served as Lead of Global Policy Management Group at Citigroup. Casey attended Purdue University where he earned his Masters in Engineering/Technology Education and Bachelor of Science in Technology. While attending Purdue’s graduate program, Casey was an instructor for various courses including Manufacturing, Power & Energy, Communications and Construction. Due to his performance, Casey received the Indiana Outstanding Future Educator Award. He also played football for the Boilermakers and earned Scholar-Athlete and All-Academic Big Ten honors.
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