Your career success is determined by more than just your technical competencies and knowledge. These hard skills are essential, but in these unpredictable, fast-changing times that require pivoting between roles and across sectors, don’t underestimate the value of soft skills.
What are soft skills?
There are two types of skills: hard and soft. While hard skills refer to technical knowledge and training (your ability to use PowerPoint, CPR certification, etc.), soft skills are more like personality traits—teamwork, communication, problem-solving—that make you well-rounded and give you the ability to work well with others. Combining these human skills with hard skills will boost your hireability, earning potential, and progress in the workplace, even in the most technical fields.
Read on for a primer on the top soft skills you should develop, according to job portal Monster.ca.
Top 7 soft skills you need
Strong communication skills can help you during the interview process and throughout your career. No matter what industry you work in, you need to be able to communicate with superiors, colleagues, and direct reports, both verbally and written, to get your ideas and points across clearly and effectively.
Effective communication is hard work and requires putting yourself out there. Whether leading a meeting, hosting presentations or joining a panel discussion online, co-workers and management need to understand what you’re saying.
A company’s success relies on people getting along and working collectively toward a common goal. When there is a friendly office culture and lots of collaboration, there is increased job satisfaction, and office productivity and retention go up too.
Be a good team player, and career opportunities abound. Go out of your way to build a connection with your teammates. Lend a hand on projects without being asked or offer to cover for a colleague that needs the afternoon off. When you give, you get, and the goodwill generated can’t help but be noticed by management. Being a team player is a big piece of the promotion puzzle.
This soft skill is on everyone’s radar. If you’re looking to aspire to management ranks, then displaying confidence and a clear vision can be your ticket to the top. It takes leadership skills to influence your co-workers and get them on board with your ideas.
These are some ideas to get the skill.
- Go out of your way to find opportunities to take on more responsibility, including extra jobs and new projects.
- Look beyond your department to other areas of the organization to spearhead new initiatives and display your leadership aptitude.
- Learn to lead through books, podcasts, online classes and workshops.
Get hands-on leadership training by volunteering to become the internship supervisor—overseeing a crew of summer interns gives you hands-on experience managing and motivating a team.
Workplace challenges are inevitable, particularly with unprecedented emerging technology and higher customer expectations. You want to get noticed for taking action when challenges arise, and something goes wrong, not for crumbing and complaining. Finding a fix will contact you to buy in from management and colleagues.
How to get it: Critical thinking is the foundation of practical problem-solving. That requires thinking creatively, analyzing information objectively, and reaching a logical decision through effective communication and collaboration.
Let’s say the weekly email to customers is regularly late. Define the problem, dig into the details—maybe the new hire isn’t aware of procedures and deadlines—then brainstorm for solutions. Once you’ve weighed the pro and cons, select and implement the solution. Problem solved!
5. Work ethic
Employers in every industry rely on people to be reliable, dedicated and committed to quality work. A good work ethic makes for highly coveted team members focused on the company’s goals and positive outcomes. Demonstrating a strong work ethic will increase your employability, likeability, and promotability.
How to get it:
- Nurture this soft skill as a routine.
- Focus on time management by being punctual for every appointment and meeting and preparing for presentations.
- Speak politely to others and the well of the company.
Tackling extra functions with a positive attitude will go a long way in developing a reputation for being a hard worker.
Workplaces and processes are evolving and shifting rapidly, and more than ever, employers are reliant on employees who can quickly adapt to industry shifts and trends, particularly the fast and furious technology changes.
Being an early adopter of change will make you relevant and indispensable. Be nimble, resourceful, think ahead and don’t whine. Keep up with industry trends by taking seminars, webinars and courses to build your tech skills. Share your software learning with your colleagues.
If you’re in the business department, stand out by becoming proficient in the latest accounting software. Upskill your digital expertise and help ramp up your company’s social brand. Showing off how you’re staying ahead of the change curve keeps you ahead of the competition.
Employers value workers that can bounce back after adversity and continue to perform under pressure. There’s no underestimating the beneficial impact on company productivity, team morale, and your career trajectory.
You need to be like a rubber ball and bounce back when things get tough. This is a complex soft skill to learn, but your efforts will be rewarded and benefit the collective culture of your workplace. Hone this trait by cultivating confidence, optimism and compassion.
Jobs are packed with disappointments, great and small. Reframe the challenges as opportunities. One of the best ways to improve your resilience is to learn to manage your stress, which remarkably impacts work performance and burnout.
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