When applying for a job, possessing the technical skills or hard skills to perform the job is a must. Without them, there’s little chance that you will be considered for an interview or offered employment; however, once you get the job, there are other important skills you must have in order to succeed. These are commonly called soft skills.
Soft skills are intangible - you don’t get a degree in them, nor are they taught per se in the classroom. Yet they are critical to your success in the workplace, and unlike hard skills, which are tied to performing a specific job, soft skills are applicable across jobs, work environments and occupations.
Why are they so important? Soft skills are what make you a desirable employee. They help you fit into the workplace. They are skills that are valued by your employer because they directly impact the workplace, which affects the bottom line.
Examples of soft skills are:
Good communication skills - the ability to clearly and effectively communicate verbally and in writing.
Good interpersonal skills - how we interact, relate to, work with and get along with others.
A positive attitude - a can-do mind-set demonstrated through positive words and actions regarding the organization, mission, and how you approach your work.
Self-confidence - your belief in yourself and your ability to do your job and contribute to the organization.
Responsible work behaviors - the basics include being at work on time, returning from breaks on time, behaving in a professional manner, dressing appropriately, showing respect and regard for the workplace, customers, colleagues, and those with whom you interact.
Time management and organizational skills - the ability to multi-task, prioritize, organize, and produce work on time and budget.
Problem solving and critical thinking skills - the ability to identify and resolve problems and the capacity to consider situations, solutions, and outcomes before acting.
Being a team player - willingness to step up to the plate as needed, doing tasks that may fall outside your regular work duties, demonstrating initiative, taking direction or leading as required.
Ability to work under pressure - not allowing outside situations to impact your job performance, managing crises, deadlines, and other stressful events that arise in the workplace.
Ability to take direction - Implementing instructions so they meet expectations and result in the identified goal.
Ability to handle constructive criticism and feedback - actively listening and understanding the basis for the feedback, resulting in a change of behavior and improved performance.
Flexibility and adaptability - willingness and ability to roll with changes, challenges and demands placed upon you.
Taking initiative – exhibiting a desire to learn and grow to ultimately benefit the organization as well as your professional growth.
Positive work ethic, pride in your work – demonstrated through a positive attitude about work and by doing your best when completing a task.
Sense of humor - ability to roll with the punches and not take yourself too seriously.
As you review the list, you can easily see why soft skills are important - they affect workplace culture, morale, work environment, work relationships, productivity, and ultimately the bottom line.
Do you possess and demonstrate these soft skills? Take some time to assess yourself and work toward mastering them if you have not yet done so. Because these skills are portable, you can use them in any work setting. They will benefit you today as well as in any future work environment. Brush up! They will help you become a keeper in the eyes of your employer.