In contrast to hard skills, which reflect your experience and knowledge, soft skills suggest your ability to work well with others and advance in the company. They enable you to build relationships and solve problems effectively, allowing you to then maximise your hard skills. Incorporating soft skills into your CV, demonstrating them in an interview, and developing them in the workplace can also help you advance your career.
What makes soft skills so important to employers?
As employers recognise the significance of soft skills in the workplace, it's important for job applicants to emphasise their soft skills in their job applications and show them off in the interviews. Soft skills demonstrate your understanding of the main characteristics that contribute to your success within a company. They also show the employer that you will be able to adapt to every situation and won’t fold under pressure.
Your application will mostly be evaluated based on how well you can fit into a team dynamic. Employers use soft skills as a measure of your communication and teamwork skills. You need to be a team player regardless of how excellent your technical skills may be. The likelihood is that if the employer does not believe you will fit in well with the team, or you do not possess certain soft skills, they will not hire you.
In addition to supporting your relationship at work, soft skills also contribute to your success with clients and business partners. In order to maintain a positive image, employers seek out employees who can represent the company in a professional and friendly manner via email, phone, or at corporate events.
In terms of soft skills, we all have room for improvement. Every one of us will eventually encounter situations requiring an increased level of soft skills. It is a natural progression to ask how soft skills can be developed or how to improve them. Use the strategies below to start your journey to success.
1. Request feedback
Since we are not always the best judges of our own abilities, it is advantageous to ask your manager or a colleague for feedback regarding your soft skill strengths and weaknesses. If you are attempting to improve specific soft skills, such as collaboration, active listening, or public speaking, think about asking them about those specifically. You can also ask for opportunities to take those soft skills that you’re lacking into practice.
2. Push yourself outside of your comfort zone
It's common for most of us to bring our best soft skills to the table when we're comfortable. The truth is, when we are around close friends, we are more perceptive, and definitely more confident than when we are in an uncomfortable business environment.
To develop your interpersonal skills effectively, you need to step outside your comfort zone and seek out settings you wouldn’t normally. It might not be comfortable for someone who is more introverted to take part in a group activity or interact in a social situation that isn't entirely comfortable for them, but you aren't just doing this for the sake of discomfort. This pressure allows you to practise and improve your soft skills and be more comfortable in those less inviting situations.
3. Try new things at work
Make an effort to learn something new or to do something you haven't done before in the workplace, such as giving a presentation, volunteering on a committee, or leading a project. These new experiences will challenge you to use your soft skills differently, and even allow you to develop skills that you may not have otherwise acquired, which will help you to become a more adaptable professional.
4. Pay attention to others
Take notes on how others use soft skills like communication, time management, and collaboration so you can learn from them. Your manager can be observed during a meeting, your co-worker can be observed during a presentation, a customer service rep can be observed handling a complaint, and so on. Note what they did well, what they could improve, and how you could apply what they did well to your own situations.
Our team can help you revamp your CV and help you find opportunities well suited to your soft skills. If you are not sure whether your CV ticks all the boxes when it comes to showing off your soft skills and who you are, get in touch.