No matter how high in demand your ideal job may be, the job market is always competitive. In a digital era where technology is capable of many human tasks, interpersonal skills are great redeeming qualities.
While practical, technical and niche skills matter, personal and non-technical skills and traits are just as, if not more important. Essentially, if you intend to succeed in any sense of the word, you will require a combination of soft and hard skills.
While hard skills are often easier to define and measure, they are essentially useless without a sufficient balance of soft skills. While some jobs certainly do require technical qualifications, according to a 2016 employability study, 93% of employers term soft skills as either very important or essential.
The Business Council of Australia has identified that being work-ready means possessing various optimal values, behaviours and skills. Although many employees understand that technical skills can often be learnt on the job, it is the knowledge, understanding and ability to critically think of ways to approach these skills in specific situations that cannot be taught so easily.
Ultimately, employers are humans too, and the majority admit to not truly understanding exactly what soft skills their business requires. However, many recognise the power of human skills over a robot, giving you the chance to make a great impression with the fantastic interpersonal skills you do have.
First impressions matter, and soft skills have a lot to do with how you carry yourself and come across to others. So allow us to break down the nuance of soft skills and how to gain and optimise them in your life.
What are Soft Skills?
Unsurprisingly, soft skills are essentially the opposite of hard skills. They are character traits, personal attributes, and other non-technical abilities that help you work and communicate with people and are helpful in every aspect of life.
We are certainly not here to tell you your years of study and training to achieve your hard skills were pointless. In fact, they are ever so valuable. Rather, to carry out and use any of these skills effectively, you must have an understanding of your soft skills.
How you engage with others determines your success, and this is precisely the value of soft skills. But, more importantly, soft skills are transferable, and why approximately 85% of job success comes from having and being able to employ them effectively.
Despite the importance and value of soft skills, they are often neglected for their lack of technicalities and tangibility. However, to truly strive personally and professionally, consistently possessing and applying soft skills is essential. This can be compared to the effects of inconsistent branding, where inconsistency and false values outwardly diminish trus
Developing Soft Skills
Like any skill, soft skills can be learned. However, as they are personal in nature, many of these skills are likely to come naturally.
Suppose you are part of the majority who spent their early professional career stressing about crafting the perfect technical skillset. In that case, the heavy focus on soft skills may be alarming to you. However, it is more than likely you already have many soft skills up your sleeve that you already practice every day and are what helped you develop those hard skills.
What makes soft skills so valuable is their ability to be used in any situation. While they are transferable, it is essential to tailor your soft skill set depending on what is specifically required from your potential or ideal job.
Types of soft skills
No matter the scenario, communication is key. The ability to communicate appropriately and effectively is essential to successfully achieve any goal or task, which relies heavily on having a broad set of soft skills. Ultimately, these skills help you channel your personal attributes, personality traits, and communication abilities for success.
Some soft skills include:
- Creative thinking
- Time management
- Problem solving
- Critical thinking
- Conflict resolution
Being a master in a technical field like video editing is so valuable, but to create a beautifully crafted video particular to a client and that aligns with any regulations, or ethical considerations requires a higher level of critical thinking. On a smaller scale, soft skills like emotional intelligence and creativity are essential for navigating daily personal relationships, giving you a better understanding of yourself to help guide your actions.
Looking to enhance your soft skills is a crucial step in personal and professional self-development and can be achieved by practising and employing them in daily situations. However, if you struggle to incorporate new soft skills into your daily interactions practically, many online resources can help you with this process.
What does a valuable soft skill look like?
As soft skills are transferable and difficult to measure, it can be challenging to identify their success. While the soft skills you will require are bound to vary by situation, there are factors to help you determine what makes for a valuable soft skill.
Ultimately, a valuable soft skill will enable you to build constructive working relationships with others and be an overall productive, helpful, and useful employee.
Communication skills are the most important skills to have and are often a must-have in the eyes of employers. The ability to clearly communicate and build relationships and rapports with anyone on any level is extremely valuable. Truly listening, understanding and responding in a precise manner can help make an entire workplace run smoothly.
Understandably, most employers don’t want to or have the time to regularly step their employees through every task. However, taking the initiative and making decisions is a massive time-saver, no matter the size of the decision needing to be made. Having the ability to decide something and move on is precisely what any boss would require to guarantee efficiency.
Essentially, valuable soft skills lie in the ability to act efficiently. That is, efficient in what you do, how you do it, and when.
How to Show off Your Soft Skills
While soft skills aren’t as easy to identify as hard skills, this doesn’t mean they aren’t as important. The personal nature of soft skills says a lot about you as a person and what you value, which is generally highly regarded by employers.
Despite their nuance, you can certainly still include them on a resume and demonstrate them through your actions and behaviours. To help you clearly display your soft skills, make a list of specific and relevant ones to the job or situation you are applying for.
Once you clearly understand your soft skill set, you can mention them in the skills section of your resume and weave them into your cover letter. In addition, you can demonstrate them in an interview or any interaction by simply acting on them. For example, showing up on time and organised, being approachable, and paying close attention to anyone talking to you clearly indicates your values and ability to act professionally.
Soft skills aren’t only skills you employ in the workplace but define you as a person. So, continue to show off your soft skills through your work and daily behaviours. These skills are useful for building meaningful relationships, which is ever so important in industries like marketing.
Employers may specifically ask you questions about your tangible experience, job history, and strengths. However, what they won’t typically ask for, yet highly regard, are your soft skills. To make a good first impression, soft skills are essential in both a personal and professional sense.
With the rise in artificial intelligence replacing so many human tasks, the one thing we can always rely on is our humanness. And it is our humanness that lies precisely within our soft skills, making them so valuable in this digital era.
At Anchor Digital, we pride ourselves on staying up to date with the latest digital trends and their potential impacts. Visit our website to see the services we offer or contact us for more information and advice.