Sharpen your soft skills

Last updated: July 25, 2024
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Elyssa Duncan
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Sharpen your soft skills
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A few years ago, I was applying for a job that required "working with external partners in an office setting" as one of the main job requirements. Though I didn't have direct experience that I could include on my resume, I knew I was skilled in communicating with others!

I was very comfortable interacting with various personality types thanks to my experience as a server. This proved to be an excellent talking point during my phone screening! I was able to demonstrate my knowledge of communicating with different audiences through a few brief examples. I was also able to illustrate my ability to multitask, organize, and work effectively with other team members.

Essentially, where I lacked direct experience, I was able to make up for with my soft skills to land the job - and you can do the same!

What are soft skills?

Soft skills are naturally learned skills that are non-job specific and can be used across any occupation. They are also commonly known as transferable skills, and they include things like problem-solving, leadership, communication, and time management.

What are some of the top soft skills to have?

COMMUNICATION SKILLS

Especially important in call center roles, warehouse work, healthcare, office settings, work from home and customer service.

  • Writing: Ability to compose reports, documents, emails, etc.
  • Negotiation: Ability to demonstrate knowledge, confidence, value and understanding
  • Presentation: Ability to present your ideas and thoughts effectively and professionally
  • Active Listening: Ability to listen thoughtfully and reflect on what the speaker is saying

CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS

Especially important in healthcare, delivery driving, truck driving, and law-related jobs.

  • Flexibility Ability: to adapt to any situation and shift priorities as needed
  • Problem-solving Ability: to think on your feet to solve complex issues
  • Creativity Ability: to think outside of the box to come up with interesting solutions
  • Quick Learner Ability: to pick up the necessary skills and traits quickly

LEADERSHIP SKILLS

Especially important in roles that have an upward career trajectory.

  • Conflict Management: Ability to resolve issues that may arise in a productive and professional manner
  • Managing Teams: Ability to manage coworkers and lead the team to success
  • Motivating Others: Ability to keep spirits high of those around you and keep everyone focused
  • Effective Communication: Ability to listen communicate your thoughts and ideas clearly and concisely

TEAM PLAYER SKILLS

Especially important in roles such as warehouse worker, healthcare, retail, food services, and office settings.

  • Customer Service: Ability to maintain a positive and helpful attitude while assisting others
  • Responsibility: Ability to take ownership and initiative of situations
  • Empathy: Ability to sense other’s emotions and understand their perspective
  • Teamwork: Ability to work with a team to reach goals and work efficiently

WORK ETHIC SKILLS

Especially important in roles such as warehouse work, customer service, rideshare driving, truck driving and working from home.

  • Dedication: Ability to give it your “all” every time you are at work
  • Dependability: Ability to fulfill your word and goals - always willing to help out others
  • Time Management: Ability to use your work time efficiently and productively
  • Multitasking: Ability to successfully perform work on multiple projects at once

How will soft skills help me find a job?

In most jobs, technical skills by themselves are not enough to get you the job. While your technical skills may get your foot in the door, your soft skills are what may land you the job and also open up more doors in the future.

Hard skills can be learned and perfected over time whereas soft skills are more challenging to develop. While hard skills may look impressive on your resume, in a sea of candidates you want to stand out! Your soft skills are what will set you apart from others who may have similar experiences or knowledge than you.

How can I develop soft skills?

Get feedback from others

The first way to grow your soft skills is to discover what your personal strengths and weaknesses are. Ask others you are close to and have previously worked with for feedback. Some questions you might consider asking are “What do you think I excelled at? What did I need to work on?” Make sure to listen closely so you can build upon the soft skills you excel at and improve those you are lacking. Make sure to thank that individual for the feedback! Even though it could be hard to accept it at first it is important to take it all in and know they are coming from a place of care and support.

Practice

Once you determine which skills you are lacking, practice developing them. If for example, you lack management skills consider role-playing with a family member or friend. Ask them to introduce a scenario in which you need to manage a certain situation that would come up in your field of work. Role-play how you would handle it!

Communicate effectively

One of the most important skills to possess is the ability to communicate. No matter whether you are talking on the phone, writing an email it’s important to practice communicating as clearly and often as possible.

  • Always make eye contact when you communicate in person or on video
  • Monitor your body language; don’t tap your foot or fidget
  • Actively listen to what’s being said to you; always pay attention and listen closely

**Take a course **

There has never been a better time to take an online course and there is no limit to the things you can learn! Some popular websites that offer courses to learn soft skills include Coursera, Lynda.com and Udemy.


What are some soft skills that you would like to improve upon?

Thinking about changing your career? Check out the Career Discovery topic!

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Denise Stathatos
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Sales Associate at Jc Penney

we are now being asked what we would do in particular situations. I think of what I have done in the past that would relate to the job that I am being interviewed for and or I could think of the show what would you do? Bring those soft skills into the situation.

3y
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Lenin Pina
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Community Specialist

Soft skills are the foundation of an applicants potential to perform and excel with a new job responsibility. Good recruiters and hiring managers place a g great of emphasis on a candidates ability to show capacity for execution.

Hard skills can be taught but soft skills are more innate and/or require long term cultivating.

Awesome article Elyssa. Thanks for sharing :-)

4y
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