What are Soft Skills
Soft skills are the interpersonal and core skills needed to succeed in the workplace in every profession. Through these skills, you relate to others and work with them. In other words, soft skills are people skills. The soft skills include your attitude, time management, motivation, leadership, flexibility, open-mindedness, manners, and personality.
No matter if you are a high-profile CEO, or a fresh employee, soft skills are mandatory to make you reach the height of success. But you might be pondering which soft skills you should learn according to your career. This is why this article exists and you are reading it right now!
Importance of Soft Skills
Before we jump to the soft skill checklist, let’s see why they are important. The importance of soft skills lies in the fact that these skills are highly valued by the employers, and often the reason behind making decisions whether to keep an employee or promote him/her to the next position.
If you want to succeed as an employee, it is important for you to cope with all the human resources you interact with at your workplace, which include your managers, vendors, co-workers, customers, clients, and so on. That is possible if you have these soft skills. It is because the employers demand and expect from the employees to have an effective interaction with others.
Demand for Soft Skills
There is a high demand for candidates with soft skills to fit in different job types. As these skills are hard to teach and are developed over a prolonged period, employers look for these skills in the candidates that they need to be fit for the job. These skills reflect your personality and ethical values that magnify your professional relationships at the workplace. Also, having a set of soft skills helps employees develop networks, work closely with a team and show greater productivity that eventually turns in the organization’s favor.
Unlike hard skills, soft skills do not demand any technical requirements. For example, an HR manager’s ability to handle and resolve a conflict between two or more employees comes under his/her soft skills. Similarly, it is a sales representative’s soft skill that he/she pays heed to a customers’ complaint and tries to facilitate them by finding a solution without any loss.
Soft Skills Checklist
Now that you have understood what soft skills are, and what their importance and demand are in a workplace, let’s look at the soft skills checklist that you must tick before applying for a job or appearing in an interview to enter a corporate world.
Think for a second and ask yourself: How well do you communicate in everyday life? Almost all jobs demand effective communication skills. In addition to having communication skills, you must be a good listener too. Whether you are interacting with your clients, colleagues, boss, vendors, or anyone around you, you must be empathetic towards them. Communicating your ideas is not good enough if you are not a good listener. Always consider it a part of communication as it always goes both ways.
Communication skills are not limited to just speaking and listening. These skills also include non-verbal communication, writing proposals and reports, visual communication and reading body language. Whenever you are practicing improving your communication, remember all these soft skills complement each other.
Whenever you are on a job, you must have the ability to work well with others. Whether it is a matter of working on a project as a team or an individual, appearing in a presentation, or attending meetings, you must have a sense of teamwork while understanding and recognizing the people around you. Even if you do not interact with them eye to eye all the time, you must be able to work with them closely for a shared cause.
Teamwork is closely related to other soft skills that include negotiating ability and highlighting and appreciating talent in a team’s diversity. Some other skills that fall in the same category are coping with office politics and tricky situations, acceptance for feedback, emotional intelligence, networking, self-awareness and dealing with different personalities at the same time.
- Critical Thinking
Most jobs demand you to think out of the box, analyze situations, connect ideas, spot errors, find problems, and make decisions accordingly to devise solutions. This is when your critical thinking skills are challenged. You must be self-dependent and use your ability to think critically. Your critical thinking skills in the workplace ensure efficient problem solving that turns in the favor of organization as it increases the efficient usage of organizational resources.
Other soft skills related to critical thinking include being creative, curious, flexible, innovative, and a keen observer.
You might not be assigned a leadership role in a job opening, but most employers are attentive to knowing how skilled you are to make decisions when you are able to manage people and positions. This is where you must work out with leadership skills when pushing comes to shove and you can resolve a demanding situation. If you feel your job has the potential for advancement, you must prepare yourself to display your leadership skills anytime. In fact, if you ensure you can work as a leader, there are high chances that you will get promoted.
There are some other soft skills that come under the umbrella of leadership skills, including, but not limited to conflict resolution, executive decision making, successful coaching, project management and talent management.
- Work Ethic
No matter if you land your first job or reach the height of your career, showing work ethic skills is necessary at each level. Employers look for strong work ethics in candidates and expect them to work on time, reach the targets promptly, and stay organized and focused. Employees with a sense of work ethics budget their time, while managing their tasks and keeping relationships with other employees.
Employers appreciate employees with work ethic skills while they own a sense of responsibility, commitment, discipline, professionalism and working under pressure.
- Positive Attitude
Finally, employees who are friendly to others, pleasure to be around, and are eager to work, while keeping cool in the high-stress and fast-paced organizational environment are the ones who have positive attitudes. To be an employee with a positive attitude, you must be confident, energetic, honest, patient and respectable towards everyone around you.
Soft Skills Questions
1. Do you have a positive attitude? Are you friendly and do you show enthusiasm on the job? Employers want workers who smile, are likeable and genuinely interested in their jobs.
2. Do you do what you say you will? This means following through and meeting deadlines without excuse or blame. If a delay is unavoidable, you inform your supervisor or client immediately and keep them apprised of your progress.
3. Are you respectful of other people’s time? Are you late to meetings or forget them altogether? Lack of respect is also shown if you’re not prepared when meeting with another person; this wastes their time.
4. Are you proactive? Do you take the initiative to start and complete a task without your boss having to ask you, or find ways to be productive?
5. Do you show gratitude to people who help you? Saying thank you to co-workers, your boss and customers is an important habit to cultivate, and employers appreciate those gestures.
6. Do you admit mistakes quickly and offer solutions? Countless celebrities and elected officials don’t and believe they won’t get caught. When they are, they deny their actions or blame others. Taking responsibility immediately and seeking solutions are ways to gain respect.
7. Do you help others and work well with team members? These skills are essential to get the done job done efficiently. Do you give team members credit when their good ideas move a project forward?
8. Do you communicate clearly both verbally and in writing? Surveys consistently show that communication skills rank at the top for skills desired by employers.
9. Do you listen carefully without interrupting? Often, people don’t pay attention, instead thinking how they will respond. They either break in the conversation to make their point or ask the person to repeat what he said. This behavior creates a negative impression in the workplace if directions need to be repeated because of not listening well.
10. Are you motivated to learn new skills? Reading about new subjects and being curious can open your mind to new possibilities, and perhaps the solution your team has been seeking.
11. How adaptable are you? Is dealing with change difficult or are you flexible enough to change course easily? Rapid changes brought on by technology, social media and the global economy mean new and more efficient ways of doing things may be thrown at you quickly. Can you adapt to them?
12. Do you avoid complaining? It is essential to leave personal problems and gripes at the door.
13. Are you honest? Employers must be able to trust you. Do you have integrity even when no one is looking?
14. Do you persevere? The ability to stick with something because it needs to get done – even when you’d rather do something else – is a soft skill that is essential to have. This skill is also important in problem solving. Do you think of several alternatives, or do you give up right away?
15. Are you creative? Do you stay with the same old procedure or solution because it is easiest and saves you time? Or do you think of new ideas, new possibilities?
Final words: How to Stand Out Using Soft Skills
From crafting your resume to working in a formal organizational setting, you must keep in mind that there are thousands of other candidates and employees to give you a tough competition. In this race, you must stand out if you want to be recognized as a fit for the job or get promoted. This is where soft skills help you. While crafting your resume, writing a cover letter, appearing in an interview, and working as an employee, you must always mention your soft skills and encourage yourself to improve your existing soft skills while developing new ones according to the demands of the job and the organization. It is all about keeping yourself up to date through a soft skill checklist.