Soft Skills for Job Success – When you think of finding and keeping a job, you have to consider more than just your hard skills and your technical skills. According to a recent article published by the Department of Labor, “while the three ‘R’s’ (reading, writing, and arithmetic) are still fundamental to every employee’s ability to do the job, employers view ‘soft’ skills as even more important to work readiness.” The Department outlined several critical soft skills that workers today need to succeed in the workforce. Below we will discuss a few of them, as well as a couple of others we think are important. Which ones do you have, and which ones do you need to improve on?
1. Communication Skills
Written and verbal communication are important soft skills to have as a worker. There are many ways to improve both, including taking professional training and attending workshops that specifically address communication skills. (Workplace Learning Solutions offers a training program that will help you to improve your communication skills).
Written communication skills involve more than just sending emails. You could be called upon to write reports or blog posts, or handle the company’s social media campaign, and other tasks that requires excellent written communication skills.
You also need to have good verbal communication skills. Verbal communication could involve making presentations, handling customer complaints/customer service on the telephone, training new employees, or other tasks.
Communication can also be nonverbal. Just like in your private life, both verbal and nonverbal skills matter in the workplace. It is not just what you say and how you say it that can get you into trouble or that get you into a higher position. It is also what you do not say—your nonverbal communication—that matters.
Communication skills are soft skills that are invaluable for any worker.
2. Problem Solving
Problem-solvers bring a huge asset to a company because you can be assured that problems are always going to crop up at work. To the extent that you are able to troubleshoot issues and save your boss from having to micromanage everything on a daily basis, the more valuable you will be to your boss. Problems can be as simple as knowing how to unclog the copy machine and can be as complicated as making accounting, vender or operational decisions. It all depends on your role in the company. Obviously, some problems should be addressed by the boss but where possible, you should use your own judgment in solving problems at work. Your boss will reward you for this soft skill with trust, autonomy and promotions.
Not everyone works well as part of a team. A lot of people work best alone, and that is okay. But in fact, it is a lot more valuable, for a lot of bosses, when their employees are able to work on a team. Teamwork is very highly favored in most workplaces today, in fact. It does not mean there is no room in the workforce for lone rangers. But it does mean that to the extent that you develop your team spirit and teamwork skills, the more likely you will be to advance in the average workplace, because teamwork is a soft skill.
Social media exists because people understood, on a granular level, that it is all about networking in this world. It is about who you know and not necessarily what you know, that gets you to the top of the career apex. Your ability to grow a rolodex—digital and otherwise—is a soft skill that is going to have a huge impact on how successful your job search, and career turns out to be. If your networking skills are not great, you can begin a little bit at a time to grow your contacts and expand your network. It is in your best interest to do it.
5. Stress Management
Workplaces are stressful, as a general rule, and your ability to manage stress is a very important soft skill that you need to succeed in the workplace. It is probably not the way you think—that managing stress is a soft skill—but at work, being able to manage stress is a skill. Indeed, the inability to manage your stress could doom your career.
6. Time Management
Another soft skill that you need to succeed at work is time management. This is especially important, and you would be surprised that a lot of people are not so great at managing their time at work. These people typically are huge procrastinators, or they are disorganized and so their levels of productivity and output are not that impressive. Guess what? Workers who are disorganized procrastinators do not usually have the same level of success as workers who are more organized, and whose time management skills are more developed. The good news is that you can get better at time management by being aware, staying focused, and being determined to be more productive.
7. Openness to criticism
Criticism can be very useful to a person’s career performance if it is constructive. The problem is that not everyone can take criticism. They take criticism personally, and they do not recognize it as a tool for self-improvement. Others are more easily adaptable and they are open to self-improvement even if it means they have to accept some criticism. The more open you are to criticism, and the more willing you are to learn from it, the more successful you are likely to be at work.