Soft Skills Are The New Black
Posted September 24, 2019, by Elesha
Want to move your career forward in leaps and bounds? We've got two words for you: soft skills.
What Are Soft Skills?
Soft skills are the intangible qualities and personality traits that help you communicate and work with your colleagues, teammates and clients effectively.
A few examples of soft skills include leadership, communication skills, problem-solving abilities and work ethic.
Unlike technical skills, soft skills (also known as people, interpersonal or social skills) aren’t specific to a particular role or industry like bookkeeping or plumbing. Soft skills can be applied across all industries, workplaces and life in general! Hone your soft skills and you can give yourself a unique selling point that sets you apart from the herd.
Why Are Soft Skills Important?
Technical skills are crucial - an employer wouldn’t hire a social media marketer who’s never used Instagram before, right? Or a construction manager who can’t manage a project budget.
That said, soft skills are more important now than ever.
LinkedIn's 2019 Global Talent Trends report revealed employers are increasingly looking for soft skills. 91% of companies a lack of soft skills as an issue and 80% of companies were struggling to find better soft skills in the market.
Soft skills could be what gives you the edge over another candidate in a job interview. Or lands you the promotion instead of your colleague.
Let’s take Anna and Paul for example.
Both are accountants with the same technical knowledge, the same amount of experience and the same qualifications.
However, Paul is a much better communicator and team player than Anna.
He’s also more motivated and brings solutions to his boss, rather than just the problems like Anna does.
Who do you think is more likely to be tapped on the shoulder for the team leader promotion?
Work isn’t just about getting the work in front of you done. To really thrive and get ahead, you need to exist peacefully with co-workers (even the hellish ones), solve problems creatively, be upbeat and efficient and come up with ideas to improve the business.
8 Of The Best Soft Skills For Your Career
So, what exactly are the best soft skills to have? If you demonstrate capability in these areas, your star will definitely shine brighter.
Leadership skills aren’t only for managers or team leaders. You don’t need to have a CEO position in your sights to demonstrate this important soft skill. Employers look for those who can guide teams, help innovate solutions, and make smart decisions when the situation calls for it.
If you communicate effectively with your colleagues, managers and clients you’ll be a valuable asset to an organisation.
When there is limitless work and limited time (which is like, always!) your boss, or future employer, is going to love that you know how to use time wisely. Organising each day helps you to complete work on time and gives you the chance to spend time on creative problem solving and long-term goals - not just getting through your to-do list.
Even the best workplaces aren’t immune to conflict. Your ability to resolve conflict quickly and effectively - especially when dealing with multiple parties - will impress your boss and gain the respect of your colleagues.
Being A Team Player
“Two heads are better than one.”
It’s important to be able to work with a diverse group of people in a supportive, cooperative way. Working as a team lets everyone build on each other’s talents. While your strength may be creative thinking, a coworker might shine in project planning.
Having a strong work ethic means you’re dedicated to the organisation; its goals and values and are determined to get things done. This establishes you as someone who is dependable and accountable - two traits that can definitely move you ahead faster.
Self-motivation means looking beyond the bare minimum of work required and doing more to progress things faster. You set and stick with goals and your boss loves you because you don’t need constant handholding or reminders about what tasks need to be done.
No matter the industry you’re in, great problem-solving skills will come in handy. Every workplace meets problems and developing your skills to figure out solutions quickly, creatively and cost-effectively will definitely give you a distinct edge.
How To Build Your Soft Skills
Given how important they are, it's worth investing time in developing your soft skills and levelling up in any areas you might be struggling with. Maybe your communication skills are fantastic but time management? Hmmmm...less than stellar.
Here are a few ways to build your soft skills -
Take a course
Enrolling in a leadership or management course will teach you the skills you need to lead effectively and manage people and projects, including those intangible soft skills needed to persuade, influence and inspire teams.
You could consider taking shorter workshops too on soft skills such as time management, communication and conflict resolution.
Focus on teamwork
You're aligned with the team when you can adapt as needed to contribute and commit to its goals. Take notice of your colleagues' moods and if they seem uncharacteristically stressed or anxious, ask what you can do to help.
There are SO many insightful business and personal development books out there to help you hone areas like organisation, planning your day and dealing with teams (whether you're a leader or a team member yourself) and personal motivation.
Some titles to get you started - Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts - Brené Brown and Smarter, Faster, Better - The Secrets Of Being Productive In Life And Business - Charles Duhigg
Check out our list of 21 Job Skills That Will Increase Your Salary.