I have received many compliments about my sons, because they look people in the eye when having a conversation. This small thing is important in building trust and helping display confidence to others, so we have reinforced it from the time our sons were small. Making good eye contact is an example of a soft skill.
I like Indeed’s definition of soft skills, “Soft skills are personality traits and behaviors. Unlike technical or “hard” skills, soft skills are not about the knowledge you possess but rather behaviors you display in different situations.” Communication is one of the top soft skills that are important for today’s job seekers. This includes non-verbal things like eye contact and a solid handshake, but also speaking and listening skills. Creativity, teamwork, and leadership are also key soft skills.
The importance that hiring managers place on these interpersonal qualities is good news for job seekers. Why? These are traits that can be improved or learned with practice and do not require any official training to acquire. For example, if you’re an entry-level employee, you can tell a story about how you worked on a team to achieve a goal. While you may not have the on-the-job experience, many employers will value your previous teamwork ability and see that you are willing to learn. In fact, the LinkedIn 2018 Learning Report showed that employers said soft skills were the most important area of training for their workforce.
The other great thing about these intangible talents is that they are transferable. Your expertise travels with you to your workplace. This is useful for job seekers who are changing positions, industries, or skill-sets. In a previous position, I worked with many Engineers. These were some brilliant individuals that were experts in their fields. However, the Engineers who set themselves apart were the ones who could communicate well with others within the company and present their ideas clearly. It was not enough to rely on their intelligence and expertise in their roles. They had to exhibit soft-skills in their day to day work environment.
For entry-level and experienced employees alike, time spent developing these soft skill areas to be proficient will continue to serve you well into the future. Take some time to invest in yourself by improving your abilities in areas like communication, creativity, dependability, time management, and the basics like etiquette, eye contact, a solid handshake. You will thank yourself!
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