What are soft skills? Why are they important for your career?
Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) forecasts the number of university graduates to reach 300 million worldwide by 2030, up from 137 million in 2013. Pauline Tamesis, the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Cambodia, said in a speech that 160,000 young women and men are entering the job market each year in Cambodia, the majority having recently graduated from university.
Being able to graduate shows that they have acquired enough skills and met all school requirements, proving that they are ready to enter the job market. Although some people might start working even before finishing university, others might not even pursue higher education and look for work right away.
While having hard skills could land you a decent job with adequate income, it is worth remembering that soft skills are equally important or even more important, as they can help keep you in the position in the long run.
According to a survey by LinkedIn in 2018, 57% of business leaders think that soft skills are more important than hard skills.
Hard, or technical, skills refer to the trainable, teachable and measurable skills in a person. For instance, accounting, banking, design, healthcare, languages, reporting, photography, communications, research, or project management, etc. In other words, hard skills are a skill set that are required for a certain job position. Typically, hard skills are listed in job postings or job descriptions. Usually, these skills are obtained through formal education or training programs such as the university, online courses or certificate programs.
Soft skills are skills that are not taught inside of school settings. They are the traits that make you a better candidate or employer than others. Soft skills greatly impact how you work as they are associated with your interpersonal interaction and productivity. In short, soft skills are non-technical skills that affect your performance in the workplace. Soft skills can be developed by doing volunteer activities or community services. Unlike hard skills, soft skills are usually hard to measure.
As the workplace evolves, having either skill alone will not take you far in your career. However, a great balance between the two will. According to a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), hiring managers tend to look for candidates with soft skills more because they tend to make someone more successful in the workplace.
Given the importance of soft skills, some important skills that enable the first-time workers and fresh graduates to stand a chance against other candidates include;
This refers to your ability to communicate with others and form relationships with your working environment. Many people equate interpersonal skills to a person’s attitude or behavior. It can also be defined as tactics that a person uses to effectively interact with other people.
Regardless of the field you are working in, interpersonal skills are important because they can help you to develop a strong working connection with both your colleagues and clients. There are many skills that fall under the term “interpersonal skills” such as mutual respect towards co-workers, patience, empathy, and tolerance. Interpersonal skills are also associated with emotional intelligence because it is the ability to understand and manage your own emotions, and other people around you.
Communication in the workplace is the way one delivers ideas, opinion, emotion or instruction to other people or expresses themself in both verbal and written during work.
Communication skills are significant because they allow yourself and other people to fully digest the message and information. Good communication can help avoid misunderstandings which will lead to an effective working environment. When communicating in the workplace in any form, you must always be clear and precise.
One way to stand out when communicating with a co-worker is you should try to be attentive when they speak, show confidence and empathy and be friendly. These days, it is very common to see fresh graduates with decent verbal communication skills. However, written communication remains a big concern, specifically when crafting an email, with few university students able to produce a good, professional email message. Learning how to write emails is useful for better communications.
Teamwork & Collaboration
Recruiters always look for candidates with strong teamwork and collaboration skills because they do not hire you to work alone in the company. Teamwork and collaboration here refer to the skills you use to work with other people in order to achieve one common goal. Without teamwork and collaboration reaching a common goal is almost impossible.
These skills are important because they illustrate good leadership and good communication among team members. Skills used to establish a powerful and impactful team might include coordination, contribution, guidance, communication, persuasion, team management, feedback giving and advice. Problem-solving and conflict management skills also play crucial roles in teamwork and collaboration.
While conflict in the workplace is unavoidable, it can be solved by problem-solving and conflict management skills, such as negotiation. Explain your view to them and listen to theirs. It is always ideal to start by defining what the root cause of the problem is.
Adaptability & Flexibility
During job interviews, talent managers often look for those with the willingness to learn, change or try new things. Why? Because in the world of working adaptability and flexibility go hand in hand.
Adaptability and flexibility rely on your ability to cope and embrace change, especially sudden one. While these skills are important in every industry, they are extremely important when it comes to jobs like public relations, event management and advertising. Other qualities such as persistence, resilience, positivity, stress tolerance, open-mindedness and tolerance are needed in order to be flexible.
It is undeniable that employers always look for candidates who are creative. Creativity is associated with being innovative and plays a very vital role in the workforce because it allows one to go beyond the traditional way of thinking by introducing and create something new to the organization. It is especially crucial for someone who works as a designer, writer and artist.
However, you do not have to be an artist to have creativity, because the term can refer to you being resourceful to the company or organization. Presenting your ideas can give you the opportunity to be creative.
This soft skill is key to proving your character at work. Managers want people with a strong work ethic because such people are those who would come in on time, finish their daily task in a timely manner and have the ability to stay focused and organized.
Work ethic can also refer to the ability to work without much guidance from others. With a strong work ethic, it shows how much you value your job or position. Work ethic can be demonstrated by a positive attitude, punctuality, discipline, responsibility, professionalism, commitment, dedication, and independence and reliability.
This post is also available in: KH