8 Soft Skills for Personal and Professional Growth
Work skills can be divided into two categories: hard skills and soft skills. They are qualities that are of equal importance, and are pivotal for personal and professional development.
“Hard skills”, or technical skills, are concrete, job-specific operational skills, such as fluency in another language, or data analysis. Hard skills are developed through education and work experience.
“Soft skills” are interpersonal skills and attributes that are applicable and carry-over across all industries. They enable individuals to successfully navigate and grow within their work environment. They are developed over time through personal experiences.
Your hard skills may get you the job interview, but soft skills are what give you that winning edge to land the job and help you succeed within the company.
What Are Soft Skills?
Soft skills are desirable qualities that include an individuals’ work ethic, people skills, and problem-solving abilities. They are just as important as job-specific hard skills. After all,
job candidates with technical skills may not succeed in the workplace if they lack certain soft skills.
Soft skills are widely applicable, over all industries. Regardless of position or organization, every job requires an individual to work with others to some capacity. Soft skills are the interpersonal skills required to carry out tasks and work, smoothly and efficiently.
While some people naturally possess certain soft skills due to their personality traits, like all other work skills, they can be learned and developed over time. Although you can’t learn soft skills by reading a book, you can fine-tune your soft skills by making active changes in your day to day life.
How To Identify Soft Skills?
Unlike hard skills, soft skills are difficult to identify. One does not simply get a certificate or diploma in emotional intelligence or time management -- but, that doesn’t mean you can’t learn or develop those skills over time.
Soft skills are based on your relationships, personality, and character. Are you always on time? That’s time management. Would your friends describe you as a good, and engaged listener? That’s active listening! -- Make a list to better identify which soft skills you excel in.
If you’re still struggling to identify your soft skills, you don’t have to do it alone! Ask your friends or former colleagues, what soft skills they feel are your strengths.
PRO TIP: Employers love to hire those with a great attitude. Make sure you organically incorporate your awesome soft skills on your resume, cover letter, or LinkedIn, to stand out and to appeal to hiring managers!
Why Are Soft Skills Important?
Soft skills drive personal and professional success. According to Linkedin’s 2019 Global Talent Trend, 92% of participants felt that soft skills were more important than technical skills, with a whopping 89% attributing bad hires to a lack of soft skills. Soft skills are becoming increasingly important in the workplace, and in the job market.
By the same token, a joint 2017 study conducted by the University of Michigan, Harvard, and Boston College found that soft skills training in the workplace resulted in an increase in productivity and staff retention, ultimately generating a 256% net return on investment. More and more companies are starting to allocate funding to soft skill training programs.
Soft skills are important for job satisfaction, productivity, and professional growth. Looking for another way to increase workplace productivity? Click here!
8 Highly Sought-After Soft Skills Through the Lens of an Employer
1. Emotional Intelligence
Emotional Intelligence or “EQ” can be broken down into four main categories: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. In short, emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize others’ emotions, while controlling your own.
Having emotional intelligence means you’re aware of and can control your own emotions. You have empathy and can pick up on the emotional and social cues of others. You’re able to build and maintain relationships.
As humans, we are social beings and need to work and interact with others on a daily basis. A high EQ will help you navigate and succeed in both your personal and professional life, here are 10 ways to boost your emotional intelligence.
Communication is key! Not just in the workplace, but in life, as well. Communication is an individual's ability to share or exchange information, and converse effectively with others — one of the most important skills to have.
Communication skills play a pivotal role in all aspects of the business, whether it be internal, business to business, or business to consumer. Clear and effective communication is at the heart of every successful business.
While some are blessed with strong communication skills, that doesn’t mean that communication skills can not be developed over time. Joining clubs like Toastmasters can help you hone in on and develop better verbal communication and public speaking skills.
3. Time Management
Time management is an individuals’ ability to control and allocate time to a specific task. Those with good time management, are more efficient and productive workers. They are able to set and complete tasks in a timely manner while balancing their responsibilities.
Ability to manage time effectively is crucial, an employee who is able to manage their time increases the company’s overall productivity.
Time management is the key to happiness, success, and finding the optimal work/life balance. Those with strong time management skills can clearly distinguish their priorities, are well- organized, plan ahead, and know when to take time off (after all, well-rested employees are more creative and productive).
Check out our blog post here for more tips on how to recognize, and avoid burnout!
Adaptability is a key skill that employers actively seek when hiring new talent. It shows an individual’s ability to work, adapt, and adjust to changes. Individuals who excel in adaptability are flexible and able to quickly respond to changing ideas, expectations, strategies, trends -- amongst other workplace changes.
Being adaptable shows an individual’s resourcefulness, how they work under pressure, and their ability to take on new and different tasks.
So how does one boost their adaptability skills? Be open-minded! Accept and embrace changes, especially if they force you out of your comfort zone. Approach each change, as a learning opportunity for personal and professional growth.
5. Active Listening
Nobody wants to continue conversing with someone if they feel like they're not being heard. Listening skills are important, in both our professional and personal lives, for fostering and maintaining relationships.
Active listening is the practice of attentive listening by the use of visual cues (nodding, eye contact), paraphrasing, and reflecting on what was said. It shows the speaker that you are engaged and receptive to their thoughts and ideas.
It is important in the workplace as it is the base of clear communication, and can reduce conflict and strengthen relationships. Looking to improve your active listening? Here are Forbes’ 10 steps to effective listening.
6. Attention to Detail
Attention to detail is an individuals’ ability to accurately and thoroughly complete a task.
Every employer wants an employee with a hawk eye for detail, to ensure no mistakes slip through the cracks. After all, even small mistakes can be costly. Thus, detail-oriented individuals are more efficient workers; they are less likely to have errors in their work.
The secret to attention to detail is to be organized and double-check your work. That way, no small details are left out. Be present and use your analytical, observational, and active listening skills to improve your attention to detail.
7. Work Ethic
A work ethic refers to how hard an individual works.
Are you always focused and on task? Do you always show up for work on time? Would your friends and coworkers describe you as dependable? All traits of an individual with a strong work ethic!
Who doesn’t want to hire a hardworker? Having a strong work ethic is an attribute every employer is looking for. It shows that you are not only dedicated, but dependable, disciplined, responsible, and professional as well.
Individuals with a strong work ethic are more productive, and more likely to get promoted. Hard work, integrity, determination, humility and focus on quality are all important traits in building a strong work ethic.
Last but certainly not least… creativity!
According to Linkedin’s 2019 Workplace Learning Report, the most sought-after soft skill is creativity. The ability to come up with new concepts and ideas is a priceless skill.
Creativity is defined as “the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination”
Creativity is not just a personality trait; it can be developed. It’s never too late to master your creativity and unlock your hidden creative genius.
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