May 19, 2022
You may be the best coder or editor or mechanic or whatever, but it amounts to little if you don’t work well with others. Some of the most important professional skills can’t be taught in class or measured on paper. These traits are called soft skills and they’re more crucial to your job search and overall career than you think. The World Economic Forum Future of Jobs report suggested that by 2025, complex problem-solving, critical thinking, creativity, people management and emotional intelligence would be among the most important skills required in the workplace.
Soft skills are personal attributes that influence how well you can work or interact with others. These skills make it easier to form relationships with people, create trust and dependability, and lead teams. Soft skills include interpersonal (people) skills, communication skills, listening skills, time management, and empathy, among others. They are among the top skills employers seek in the candidates they hire, because soft skills are important for just about every job. In essence, they are essential for your success in the workplace, your company’s success and your personal life.
When seeking a new job or career change, many people focus heavily on hard skills. They work on gaining new technical experience or training, but soft skills are just as important as hard skills.
Whether you are trying to find a new job, change careers, or grow in your field, soft skills can help.
If you and another candidate have the exact same list of hard skills, hiring managers will make a decision based on factors outside of experience and training. In many cases, the deciding factor will be related to soft skills, and the hiring manager will hire the candidate with more soft skills.
Automation and artificial intelligence will result in a greater proportion of jobs relying on soft skills. Advances in technology have caused tasks that require hard skills to decline, making soft skills a key differentiator in the workplace. As the cost of robots decreases and the performance of artificial intelligence improves, jobs such as manufacturing line workers, will become automated. Traditional skills like teamwork, communication and critical thinking will be more important than ever.
Following on from the previous point, soft skills such as emotional intelligence are hard to automate and unlikely to become automated anytime soon. This means they’re expected to become more desirable in the near future.
Job seekers with a short list of hard skills may still be able to get the job by focusing on their soft skills. In LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends 2019, 92% of talent professionals said soft skills matter as much or more than hard skills. Many hiring managers are willing to find great candidates that have a long list of soft skills and train them on the hard skills they need.
Unlike hard skills that are learned, soft skills are similar to emotions or insights that allow people to “read” others. These are much harder to learn, at least in a traditional classroom. They are also much harder to measure and evaluate. That said, some job training programs do cover soft skills. They may discuss soft skills so job seekers know what they are and the importance of highlighting them on their resumes. There are also free online courses that can help you improve your soft skills.
If you’ve been working for a while, chances are you’ve already developed some soft skills. For example, if you’ve worked in retail, you’ve worked in a team environment. If you’ve helped unhappy customers find a resolution, you’ve used conflict resolution and problem-solving skills. If you’re new to work, think of other activities you’ve done, either through school or on a volunteer basis. Chances are you’ve had to communicate, adapt to changes, and solve problems. You can also reflect on soft skills you need to develop. For example, instead of just discussing problems with your manager, suggest solutions to those problems. If you see a colleague struggling, offer to pitch in. If there’s a process that could improve your workplace, suggest it.
It’s obvious why soft skills are paramount to getting ahead in the workplace. Having good soft skills gives you a professional edge over your colleagues and will definitely help you shine and this is true across all industries. Now that you know what soft skills are and how they can help you advance in the workplace, start improving them.
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