Soft skills relate to the personality, attitude and characteristics of an individual. Although a few soft skills like communication can be acquired through training, education, work and life experiences, they are harder to measure and more difficult to be taught than technical abilities. Are soft skills worth the time and commitment to develop? Absolutely. Soft skills are transferable and can be utilized in different occupations and environments. For example, good articulation and understanding is a quality that can be applied and appreciated anywhere.
While technical abilities, or hard skills, will always be an important factor in determining new hires, soft skills too are essential qualities for employers to watch for in candidates, or for job seekers to jot down on a resume. In some circumstances depending on the job, a team or the workplace, soft skills are qualities that are as important as or more meaningful to possess than hard skills.
Soft skills can be the difference between the success and failure of an employee. While certain technical abilities can be learned on the job, soft skills cannot be acquired at the same rate. Productivity can be affected if an employee has the technical abilities but not the qualities appropriate to fulfill the responsibilities of the position - qualities like strong work ethics, motivation, concentration, patience, creativity and flexibility. Without them, a candidate who looks good on paper with the essential technical skills won't be able to meet deadlines, have the determination or focus to accomplish projects and do work without minimal supervision. In this day and age where knowledge is accessible and most candidates will have very similar qualifications, how well an individual can effectively and efficiently engage in their work is a key to success.
We work with people and we work for people regularly. Beyond our individual effort there is an emphasis on teamwork, customer service and satisfaction. Naturally our interpersonal skills come into play.
In the workplace communication, collaboration, reliability and leadership among a few others are necessary traits to have. We contribute to the team's effort and it is important to express ourselves and be understood, to be open to feedback and other opinions, to be able to effectively process instructions and information, and have the ability to resolve conflict. A leader and a mentor is dependable, willing to help coworkers and is able to stimulate thoughtful discussion. In a team, playing a support role is also necessary. The willingness to listen can help build an open and honest work environment.
Soft skills are also needed when we interact with clients, customers or are networking. How we communicate and interact with others will affect their perception and impression of us. It will influence whether they want to maintain the connection or contact us again. The right qualities that we choose to display can invite people to open their doors.
The way we work, build and maintain relationships with colleagues and prioritize the different dynamics of our job can impact the company culture. Every company and occupation is different, but the most popular soft skills remain: having strong work ethics, owning a positive attitude, being a good communicator, being dependable, self-motivated, team-orientated, organized, flexible, showing confidence, having the ability to multi-task and being able to work under pressure. Employees and leaders with aligned values, shared outlooks and feelings about the company can affect the degree of employee engagement and retention. It is important to look into what makes each person and the business tick.
The assessment of soft skills is an important part of the hiring process that should never be overlooked. If you are a job seeker at an interview, talk about these qualities in yourself in addition to qualifications. Back up claims with concrete and interesting examples from your personal life. Employers should have at least a few questions centered on these skills, which can give them insight about a potential hire. The perfect candidate will have the right balance of soft skills and technical abilities needed for the job.