Getting a job is more than just about a perfect cover letter, a well-drafted resume and the right references. Although all of these are indispensable, there’s more to professional success in terms of attitude, thoughts and behaviour.
Soft skills are important because they decide the nature of your success in the professional arena, and also whether it is going to be a temporary phenomenon, or a permanent pattern.
This post talks about some of the important soft skills that you should inculcate and hone, in order to deal better with daily situations at your workplace and enhance your professional life.
Most recruiters today want employees that are not only good at what they do but also have a positive influence over their environment.
A person who is good at communicating with teams, who knows how to walk the talk, and who can contribute to the company’s bottom line in a holistic manner is more valuable than a talented individual who just likes to do her work, keeps to herself and treats work like a daily chore.
Obviously, academic credentials matter and they do matter a lot. But if you think being a nerd will take you to the top, that’s wishful thinking.
Why Are Soft Skills Important?
The first test of your behavioural skills is the first face-to-face contact with the recruiter, i.e. the personal interview.
The moment you enter the door for an interview, you are being judged by the experienced eyes of the recruiter. There are a lot of subtle factors that contribute to their final perception of you.
What you communicate through words is only half the information that the recruiter uses to process your application. The other half part is communicated through your body language, the gestures, behaviour and attitude.
According to Bibi Caspari, a soft skills curriculum instructor, “Words are only seven per cent of the message. How we use our voices to say the words creates 38% of the impact. And while it is hard to believe, a whopping 55% of the impact is the visual impression.”
But how do soft skills help? When you apply for a job, wanting it is only the first step. If through your behaviour, and attitude, you are able to convince the interviewer that this is something you are truly excited about, then you are ahead of the competition.
Learning soft skills help you develop thoughts that affect your emotions in a positive manner, which in turn, affect your behaviour and attitude and allow it to become more conducive to success.
Having discussed their importance, here are 5 soft skills employers seek in a candidate. These are the very skills that will help you get hired and help you succeed in your job.
1. Public Speaking
“If you can speak, you can influence. If you can influence, you can change lives”. ~ Rob Brown
If there’s one common trait amongst the most successful persons in the world, it’s their ability to communicate their ideas clearly. The ability to speak such that others are compelled to give you their attention is one of the most treasured skills you can have.
However, not everyone is a gifted speaker, and that is perfectly normal. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “All the great speakers were bad speakers at first.”
So, don’t worry if you find yourself short of words, nervous while speaking to a crowd, or even with strangers. It’s only with time and practice that you’ll learn the power to influence others with your speech, dialogue, and words.
The easiest way to get going is talking with one stranger every day. Even greeting them with a simple, “Good morning,” “Have a nice day”, with a smile, can lead to the development of confidence, which is the key to making good speeches, and persuading others.
Another way to learn public speaking skills is to join the local chapter of an organisation like Toastmasters International, that provides a “supportive learn-by-doing environment that allows you to achieve your goals at your own pace.”
The corollary of the ability to speak at opportune moments is the ability to make new connections, business or personal. This ability has a term associated with it – networking.
It’s more contemporary avatar is social networking, especially in the context of the digital domain, as a major part of our communication is happening over the web or mobile.
Networking is an intensely powerful tool that can help you go places, and without which professional success will remain elusive.
The most successful person of our times, a person who feeds the imaginations of many young minds, founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, got his big breakthrough networking with Sean Parker, and Paypal founder Peter Thiel.
Had it not been for his networking skills, we would not have had Facebook, the Big Daddy of all social networks. The incentive of being a good networker is the ability to use the energy and resources of others, instead of just your own to fuel your dreams.
The ability to take negative feedback and failure in your stride will help you go a long way.
Those who do not allow setbacks to slow them down and remain buoyant, in spite of all the negativity surrounding them, are a special breed of humans and any employer would treasure such employees.
If, through any example you could suggest situations where you showed resilience, it would help you create a far better impression with your interviewer. Setbacks are a part and parcel of this life. What’s important is how you respond to them.
Hope and despair go hand in hand, and we all have the power to not let the latter overcome us. Being honest with yourself, identifying the problem, and working steadily towards creating a solution is the best recourse.
Being accepting of others differences, or being more tolerant to the points of view others is an important life skill that ensures, at the very least, that you are a good team player at work.
Unless you are tolerant and accepting of the opinions of others, collaborating with others across different projects would not only be hard but also impossible.
Be someone who celebrates differences as the uniqueness of opinions and not as dissent. Teams that work well despite differences are the ones that remain at the front of the pack.
5. Time Management
A lot has been said about the value of time and its importance in one’s life. However, the majority of us lack even basic time management skills and often end up wasting a lot of this invaluable resource.
If you want to tackle this fast moving world, time management is the only way to do it. Not only should you not waste your time, but also be able to make the best possible use of it to ensure the desired outcome.
Prioritizing activities in your daily life, tasks at workplace and responsibilities in your personal life will, not only save you a lot of time, but also reduce the stress involved with all these activities.
There are many who complain about not being able to focus on one thing at a time. Prioritizing your tasks, as per their deadlines, and then set aside time to accomplish them can help.
Learn to outsource your work whenever necessary, delegate tasks and accept help to accomplish something when strict deadlines are involved.
Saurabh Tyagi is a blogger and a professional career author with proven expertise in writing for topics related to jobs, job trends, different job opportunities, various workplace and industry information, tips and strategies for job seekers. You can follow him on LinkedIn or Twitter.