What are Soft Skills and How Can They Help You Get Hired?
Posted: 01 March 2018
Knowing what employers are looking for gives you a keen advantage as a job seeker. Having solid, quantifiable skills is vital to show you have the right tools to succeed in a job – these could be anything from marketing, to mechanical engineering. But employers will also be looking beyond this for indications of what you’re like as a person and how you react in a variety of situations, which is where your ‘soft skills’ come in.
What are soft skills?
The Collins English Dictionary defines ‘Soft Skills’ as ‘desirable qualities for certain forms of employment that do not depend on acquired knowledge: they include common sense, the ability to deal with people, and a positive flexible attitude.’
Everyone has soft skills, and they’re in high demand from employers – they are accumulated over your lifetime from your work and experiences, rather than something you are formally trained in.
Though they can’t be measured in the same way as hard skills, employers love them because they are transferable from one role to the next and don’t rely on relevant job experience.
8 soft skills that are valuable to employers
Coming across as genuine and down-to-earth will go a long way with potential employers. A candidate who’s modest and comfortable with themselves is much more approachable and likeable than one who’s arrogant or over-confident.
This comes into every aspect of work, whether it’s talking to colleagues and your managers, sending emails, or dealing with customers/clients. It includes non-verbal communication too – body-language, eye-contact and gestures all work alongside your spoken words to express your feelings and thoughts.
Being able to effectively manage your own time and workload is important in any job. Employers will be looking for evidence that you can coordinate multiple tasks and projects to meet set deadlines.
Having a flexible approach and being open to change enables you to fit in easily with new environments. The ability to quickly learn new skills and processes is key to getting on well in a new job.
5. Working as a team
An obvious advantage in any workplace is your ability to get on with others and work collaboratively towards a common goal. Being an easy person to get along with and making contributions which benefit the team and wider business will make you more desirable to employers.
Attitude goes a long way towards how people perceive you, and how well you handle challenging situations. Positivity is a powerful mindset to have; it helps keep team moral up, and keeps the focus on solutions rather than problems. Attitude is infectious: a miserable, pessimistic person can bring a whole room full of people down; a happy, positive person raises people up and makes for a nicer working environment.
It’s not about being able to write poetry or paint a portrait, but the ability to think laterally and find innovative solutions to problems. To see connections between seemingly unrelated things takes imagination and intelligence, which allows you to present ideas in new and engaging ways: an invaluable skill for any workplace.
Emotional intelligence dictates how you read others and judge situations. Seeing things from other people’s perspectives, and anticipating how your own actions might impact them, helps encourage positive interactions and avoid uncomfortable situations – which means a more pleasant, harmonious working environment.
How to show off your soft skills to employers
Your CV and cover letter should include a good mixture of hard and soft skills. Pick out several soft skills which can be applied to the role – organisation, communication and working as a team are always strong contenders, and all employers will be looking for these.
As always, when applying for different jobs, you need to tailor the content of your CV and cover letter to reflect the job requirements, so consider this when choosing which soft skills to cover. If the job advert is asking for someone who’s flexible then make sure you mention your adaptability! The challenge with soft skills is being able to actually prove them, so where possible, relate your skills to a specific project or situation which demonstrates these skills in action.
When it comes to being interviewed, you’ll be able to show off some soft skills before even answering any questions – present yourself as a genuine, positive person, and communicate clearly and confidently to make a good impression on the interviewer. When responding to questions, be sure to highlight these transferable skills. The common interview question ‘How have you handled a challenging situation?’ is a great opportunity to discuss your creative problem solving, teamwork and communication skills.
There’s no denying the value of hard, measurable skills when it comes to getting a job, but balancing these with a strong set of soft skills will make you even more desirable to potential employers. Be sure to highlight your soft skills in your CV and cover letter, and don’t forget to include them in your interview responses to boost your chances of being hired.
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