Supplementing yourself with hard skills for careers is vital in setting yourself above others in the competitive job space. However, soft skills are just as important in distinguishing yourself in this process. Soft skills are the personal attributes used to succeed in a professional environment, whereas as hard skills are physical and tangible things you have learned, such as R or SQL.
They relate to your personality traits and your intuition; which makes them hard to be taught. That’s why being able to express these traits is essential when applying and interviewing. Hiring managers need to be able to spot who is the best fit for their company not only vocationally, but personally.
Why are soft skills important?
No matter what role you are applying for, soft skills apply to that job. Establishing a solid repertoire of soft skills will not only help you in the application process but in succeeding above other team members when you are hired. In the eyes of hiring managers, these skills can separate the good from the hired.
A mechanic is an excellent example of how these skills apply. Mechanics have to have extensive knowledge of hard skills to diagnose and fix a car accurately. Your engine light turns on, so you bring it to the local mechanic. The mechanic is rude, claims an exorbitant number of things are wrong with the car and underestimates the time it will take to complete. Are you going back to them next time? Probably not.
The mechanic needed a better attitude, communication skills, and work ethic. No matter how perfectly they fixed your car, being personal towards a customer can be a deal breaker for future business.
Here we will outline some of the most important soft skill sets to have and how they relate:
Whether it is customer facing or internal, communication skills are instrumental to any career. Under this umbrella term falls listening, verbal, written communication and many more attributes. Communicating coincides with many other soft skills, ensuring their success as well. For example, a suitable leader can delegate tasks appropriately and describe who, what, when, how and why they are being done.
Public speaking is one of the toughest skills on this list as it requires a lot of practice to get right to avoid the “likes” and “uhms” when speaking. This one could be considered a combination of hard and soft skills. Being able to form presentations for display in Tableau or Powerpoint would be the hard skills. Being able to speak clearly and concisely in front of a group of people would be the soft skill. Forbes notes a survey that was done saying 70% of employed American’s say that presentation skills are critical to career success.
The brains of the operation; critical thinking is another essential component of your soft skill backbone. The critical thinker is creative and has the flexibility and willingness to learn. In addition to that, being resourceful and thinking outside the box in order to solve a problem independently will have your soaring high past other team members.
In data analysis, you will hone your critical thinking skills as analysis forces you to think outside the box when cleaning up data. Without critical thinking, your data findings would be flawed. Therefore, attention to detail and problem solving and data go hand-in-hand.
A smile (and a little coffee) can go a long way in showing people on your team you care. Having a friendly, optimistic and confident attitude goes further than you think. Remember to not sweat the small stuff, and always be ready to tackle new projects. Being able to withstand the pressure and motivate other team members on difficult projects will help keep morale high and show off your skills as a leader.
Teamwork is another essential skill to have. Even in remote positions, you still are apart of a team and expected to work alongside them. Being able to comfortably ask and answer questions and complete projects together in a timely and accurate fashion is what makes the team strong.
The saying “You’re only as strong as your weakest link” resonates when managers are hiring. They aren’t in search of a weak link to add to their team. Hiring managers want to build the most robust team possible.
Attentiveness, independence, time management, multitasking all play a part in this soft skill. One of the key elements of this skill is how self-driven it is. Being disciplined and motivated enough to accomplish multiple things independently will make you a driving force in any team.
Setting a good example for yourself, even when other team members may not be pulling their weight may be frustrating, but if you stick to it, you will get noticed. Winston Churchill once said, “Some people dream of success while others wake up and work hard at it”.
Hiring managers are always looking for people they see as leaders. Leaders can succeed on their own and help others succeed. It also shows long-term potential by they can climb the ladder into higher roles, keeping the turnover-rate low.
Leadership can be portrayed even when not directly managing a team. Motivating another teammate to get a task completed, or being able to give clear feedback on something demonstrates leadership skills. Leadership is a culmination almost all other soft skills, making it an essential trait to showcase.
How to work your soft skills in an interview.
Working your soft skills into your interviews are essential to your success. Especially post-graduate interviews, because often, these soft skills are the bulk of what candidates have to offer before gaining professional background experience. When writing your resume, think of a few specific examples that apply to you. During the interview, be able to provide concrete examples of how and when you portrayed these soft skills.
With all of these skills, it is important to note that one can never ‘master’ any of them. There will always be ways to improve yourself and the way you work. Striving to be the constant learner in these skills will help drive them down even more. It is also important to remember most of these overlap and need each other to be successful. Figuring out and honing in on these skills is what will land your next job.