As our workplaces evolve, soft skills are becoming more important in all industries and occupations but what are they and why are they crucial to have?
What are soft skills?
Soft skills are a measure of how you work and how you interact with others on the job. Things like
are all examples of soft skills. Soft skills are different from the technical skills you have likely written about in your resume.
These kinds of skills are applicable in kinds of jobs and can be very important if you lack experience or are looking to switch careers.
Why are soft skills important?
Technological improvements in all industries are removing many of the technical components of work. This means that for many jobs, interpersonal skills are taking up more of their job no matter the role.
Soft skills such as empathy, persuasion, conflict resolution, teamwork and communication have always been important in any industry. However, as technology continues to improve and the balance between soft and hard skills shifts, these become even more important to long lasting and successful careers.
It’s not just about how you deal with people, however. As work gets ever more complex the ability to think critically, problem-solve and adapt are also becoming more in demand.
Then of course in all jobs, there is always value for those with good time management and organisational skills or leadership abilities and resilience
Which soft skills are the most valuable to employers?
Teamwork – Being able to work well with others is crucial for so many jobs. Even if you find yourself in a mostly solitary role you are still likely to be part of a broader team.
Teams with greater levels of collaboration are more successful and employers want to build this in their own teams.
Problem-solving – No job is without its problems, and some may be easier to solve than others. While some issues require input from your boss, employees that can come up with creative and effective solutions to problems are the ones employers are looking for.
Leadership – A manager or team leader may not always be present in the workplace. That doesn’t mean work should come to a halt if obstacles get in the way. Employers want to hire people that can take responsibility and lead in times of need.
Motivation – Coming to work with a positive attitude doesn’t just lead to you being better at your job it will make you healthier mentally. This is also a soft skill that can be hard for employers to train so they want to see that motivation from day one.
Work ethic – Whether your job is your passion, or it merely allows you the freedom to pursue your other life goals, at the end of the day you are getting paid to work. No employer is going to keep under-performing staff around for long.
Time management – How important this soft skill is to your role will vary, however, there aren’t many jobs that don’t have any deadlines!
It is important to assess the types of jobs you are going for and whether deadlines feature heavily. If they do and you aren’t great with managing time it might be worth either reassessing or working on your skills
Conflict resolution – With most jobs now having an increased focus on the customer experience it is inevitable that you may have to deal with an unhappy customer.
Being able to de-escalate a situation to create a solution that works for all parties is a valuable soft skill to have. It can even be used in your team!
Listening – Being able to listen to information, whether that comes from a boss, colleague, or customer is important in any job.
It isn’t just about hearing the actual words either, sometimes what people say or how they are saying it doesn’t accurately convey the problem they want you to solve, that’s why active listening skills are important in any job.
Adaptability – In a world that is so interconnected and reliant on ever-evolving technology there is more chance of change than ever before.
Being able to adapt to new ways of working new, processes or new tools and technologies is a valued skill in today’s workplace and employers look for it in new hires.
Dependability – Employers need to be confident that you will show up on time and get the job done. That if you are assigned a task that you have the experience and skills to do that you can be depended upon to complete it to a high level.
How to build your soft skills
It is important to first self-reflect and have a good think about what you are good at and what you may need to work on. Setting smart goals ensures you start on the right foot.
It’s also a good idea to have an idea about what kinds of jobs you want to apply for as that will help you narrow down what soft skills are really important for you and the job you want.
Employability skills training is also something that MAX job coaches can deliver through the new employment services program, Workforce Australia. These courses are free, tailored to your unique situation and goals as well as the needs of local employers.
If you would like to talk about how a MAX job coach might be able to help you, get in touch