Soft skills are your personality traits, behavior (learned or otherwise), and how you interact with others in social situations. In other words, it refers to how you intermix your life and work with others around you. In more scientific terms, it’s your emotional intelligence or your ability to identify, evaluate, control, and express your emotions.
Soft skills are usually closely related to your personality and character. They are harder to change or learn than hard skills. As these skills are part of your personality, you will bring them with you to any job or role that you will be undertaking. For some employers, finding an employee with the right set of soft skills is even more important that having the proper technical know-how, because unlike hard skills, soft skills are part of your emotional fabric and harder to learn.
Companies are spending a lot of time and money trying to figure out a potential hire’s personality and how good of a match their personality is going to be for a position. This is especially prominent in management and leadership roles. According to the WSJ, more companies are holding out for the diamond in the rough and taking their time to hire the employee with the right set of both hard and soft skills.
A big part of the interview process, especially the face-to-face interview, is to measure your soft skills, or as some employers might call, “the right personality fit with the organization”. This makes it even more imperative that you properly display the right soft skills during the interview process. So, what exactly are employers looking for? Here is a list of soft skills employers want.
Below is the list of soft skills that employers are looking in a potential hire.
Communication is one of the most common soft skills employers look for in a new hire. Communication is how we build relations and manage expectations. Think about how important being able to communicate your ideas, viewpoints and feelings are in your personal life; it is no different at your job. In order to be productive, you have to be able to explain your ideas to others around you. The more effectively you are able to clarify your ideas and views, the easier it is for others to understand what you are trying to explain. Being an effective communicator is a big plus if you are going to be in a leadership role or manage a team of people.
Teamwork means being able to work within a group towards a common goal. Being a team player means that you have a clear idea of your group’s objective, and you put your efforts towards achieving this common goal. It also means that you know your specific role within the group, and do not try to step over another group member’s role within the group. A sign of a true team player is that you put your personal interests secondary and the group’s first. You should also be willing to listen to the group’s leader for direction and do as required from you.
As the name suggests, this is the ability to manage time effectively. You need to be able to prioritize tasks in order of importance to stay on track to deliver the results expected of you. If you are working on multiple projects at the same time, you should have the ability to multitask. In business, time is money, and if you are wasting time on non-important tasks or taking too long to finish your work, you are wasting the company’s time and costing them real dollars.
Having the ability to resolve issues and get past any obstacles to achieve your goal is an invaluable soft skill to have. It is a trait that is hard to learn from experience, and is more about your personality and emotional intelligence. You need to know when to apply logic towards the resolution of an issue, and when you need to think outside the box and use your creative (left) side of the brain to solve a given problem. If you have the ability to find logical, creative and non-conventional ways to solve problems, the employer will look at you as an invaluable asset. Persistence is also a big part of problem solving. If one approach does not work, you should have the ability and be willing to step back and look at the issue at hand from a different angle to find the answer.
In today’s high stress environment where companies are focused on their bottom line more than ever, and the emphasis is to get the most amount of productivity from employees, it is important for you to show the ability to handle stress well. You should be able to perform your job or even excel under stressful situations. There are multiple reasons you could be stressed out. It could be caused by the project that you are working on, it could arise from personal issues at home or by one of your team members; it’s a part of life. A company is looking for an employee who will be able to manage their stress and perform their job regardless of how much stress they are feeling.
Everyone makes mistakes. They are a part of life, and the workplace is no different. The ability to own up to your mistakes, admit that you screwed up to your group or team leader, and learn from your mistakes is one of the most admired soft skills by employers. No reasonable manager expects you to be perfect all the time, but if you are the kind of person who is always looking to blame others for your mistakes, you will probably not be making a lot of friends at work. On the other hand, if you admit that you made a mistake, overlooked, underestimated, or plain and simple just dropped the ball, and you are able to explain to your manager and group members what steps you are going to take to rectify the situation, you will earn a lot of respect from your peers.
This is the list of soft skills most employers want from their new hire. It is your job to highlight these soft skills in your resume, and more importantly, display these soft skills during the face-to-face interview. Simply writing them on your resume is not sufficient, as it seems that it has become a norm for people to list these soft skills on their resume regardless of whether they truly have these skills or not. One of the best ways to let your new employer know about your soft skills is to give examples of how you displayed these soft skills at your past role.