Searching for a job? How much attention are you paying to the position requirements beyond education and experience — the soft skills? The job description might outline a need for a team player or excellent communication skills. So, these examples of soft skills are important, but how much do they really matter to employers?
In fact, it turns out they matter a lot. Hard skills, or the specific knowledge necessary for the job, are essential, but so are soft skills. Soft skills are the individual traits and behaviors that describe how you perform at work and interact with others. They may be more difficult to pin down or define but shouldn’t be overlooked.
These skills are transferable across positions in the workplace and can bring a candidate to the forefront for an entry-level position. Hiring managers are looking for an employee with long-term potential and soft skills are key to holding a supervisory role, however, they’re also critical to a team’s overall success.
What Are Some Valuable Soft Skills?
Strong and effective communication skills are a vital soft skill. How well will you interact with leaders, co-workers, or clients? The ability to communicate effectively means fewer misunderstandings and better collaboration toward common workplace goals. These can include skills such as active listening, providing clear feedback, presenting, and written communication.
Leadership skills are also valued, even at entry level. Have you demonstrated leadership on a small team or project? Your ability to step up when needed should be highlighted. Leadership skills include conflict management, decision-making, flexibility, and relationship building.
Employers desire a candidate with proven problem-solving capability. Can you look at a situation creatively and with an open mind to new ideas? Finding a fresh approach to a difficult problem can show critical thinking, innovativeness, and solution-focused mentality.
Going hand in hand with communication are collaboration and teamwork skills. Can you work with a team toward a shared objective? This ability can help your company meet its annual goals of success. This includes aspects of dependability, diversity awareness, and trustworthiness.
Your work ethic and style will be considered as soft skills as well. Do you work well under pressure? Do you have excellent attention to detail and a desire to perform tasks efficiently? Other work style qualities can include independence, optimism, organization, and self-motivation.
Can You Improve These Type of Skills?
You can definitely make efforts to develop your soft skills. Examine past evaluations by employers and be open to admitting your challenges in their eyes to make improvements moving forward.
Which of these skills have helped you succeed in past jobs? Expand on your strengths. Did you show initiative or stay late to work on projects? Were you willing to learn new tasks as needed or head up efforts on a small team?
Decide where you want to start making improvements and seek out small situations to build this specific set of skills to impress future employers. Give a presentation on or lead a small project. Look for ways to demonstrate solid communication skills. Seek out feedback from superiors and consider enlisting the guidance of a mentor.
How to Highlight Your Soft Skills on a Job Search
While on the job search, be sure to review the job description and note the soft skill requirements. Review sites like LinkedIn for the soft skills of other employees and the company’s leadership team. You’ll want to highlight the appropriate soft skills through the multiple layers of the job search, including on your resume, in your cover letter, and in the interview
On your resume, use a summary or skills section to describe your soft skills if space allows. Utilize bullet points to emphasize soft skills by using action words. For example, “Collaborated on a small team of four to conduct a focus group and presented the results to the management team with appropriate recommendations based on feedback.”
Use your cover letter to address how your soft skills align with the requirements in the job description. Expand on how your past work experience has served to build specific skills. If appropriate, describe a situation in more detail where your soft skills were able to shine and benefit a previous employer.
The job interview will serve as an introduction to your soft skills. Are you on time and well-spoken? Do you smile and ask meaningful questions? Be prepared to cite examples of past successes that can be attributed to the job’s soft skill requirements.
Masiello Can Match You to the Right Position
Do you have more questions about soft skills and how to best highlight them on your job search? Our team of Masiello staffing professionals has the expertise and knowledge to match your skill set to a position with one of the numerous employers in our network.
By understanding that staffing isn’t just about finding people, our staffing experts focus on making the right match every time. Contact Masiello Employment Services to learn more about our open positions and other job seeker services.
Did you know that the WorkReadyNH program offers free soft skills training? We are proud to have been regular presenters in this valuable program. Check out this resource to learn more about the skills that can help you land your next job.