5 Practical and Sought After Soft Skills for the Workforce and How to Apply Them
What are Soft Skills?
Soft skills are a way to display your character. Anyone can learn a trade or memorize information for an exam. Credibility and knowledge retention is crucial for any career, especially when it comes to growing in the profession and serving the clientele effectively. However, what can’t be learned or memorized are soft skills. These are traits that reflect someone’s personality and can set them apart for a specific job role.
Someone who is outgoing and can take initiative could be a good fit for a position that engages with patients and helps them succeed such as with a physical therapy aide. Whereas someone who is more intuitive in thinking, a good listener, and can problem solve by gathering information could be a good fit in the role of paralegal.
Regardless of what soft skills you possess, it is important to understand what they are and how they can be beneficial in the workforce.
5 Practical Soft Skills
- Communication—it is vital to learn how to effectively communicate with people so that information is shared properly, projects are completed accurately, and errors are minimized. One who communicates well also listens to others and pays attention to their surroundings. Being observant will provide ample opportunities to ask questions. By engaging in dialogue and asking questions, mistakes can be avoided and it shows someone that you care about what they have to say and want the outcome to be beneficial for everyone involved.
- Teamwork—Understanding how to collaborate with other people will provide unique perspectives and the ability to finish tasks effectively and efficiently. Each person brings unique input and talents to a team and allows for a large amount of work to be spread across members. Good teamwork shows you want to learn and help others through the process.
- Flexibility—Even with the best of intentions, it is incredibly difficult to control situations, responses, and outcomes. Timelines change. People make errors. Technology fails. New information is constantly sprouting. It is important to meet deadlines and have goals in mind for a task. However, these dates and ambitions cannot be so rigid that flexibility is nonexistent. Adaptability opens room for learning something new, implementing it, or looking at something from a different perspective.
- Leadership—Leadership is a key tool in the workforce. No one prefers to be micromanaged. Rather, being able to delegate or take charge of a project shows confidence in your abilities to get a task completed and do it well. As with any good leader, they will be someone who is worthy of respect, can be trusted with information, and will display integrity among their colleagues and the tasks assigned to them.
- Problem Solving—When situations don’t go as planned or a frustrated client or patient shows up, it is crucial to display a demeanor of patience and readiness to problem solve. Oftentimes, this requires asking questions, getting input from others, or changing the format of the task to still reach the end goal. Critical thinking and conflict resolution also fall under this category. Employers want to know their employees can effectively fix a situation even if it takes a roundabout way to get there.
Highlight Your Soft Skills
This list of soft skills is not exhaustive but should spark ideas of personality traits that are useful in life and a career. Once narrowed down as to which ones rank highest for you, these skills should be highlighted in an interview or resume. Showcasing the opportunities you’ve had to display soft skills in various circumstances demonstrates your ability to apply your talents to enhance, resolve, or strengthen a given situation.
How to Grow in Your Soft Skills
Because soft skills develop through an innate ability and are not simply something you take a test on and excel at, it can prove to be more difficult to strengthen these qualities that employers are seeking. Nevertheless, there are ways to improve in any given area.
It is important to be able to distinguish between your strengths and weaknesses. This information can be evaluated by talking with trusted family or friends, taking a personality test, or reviewing these areas professionally with an employer. Recognizing your strengths will be beneficial in thinking through situations where you have executed those soft skills. When weak spots are brought to your attention, it makes it easier to assess how to hone in on them and grow. It will allow you to put those soft skills to the test when a situation arises and a weaker skill needs to be displayed.
Another way to develop soft skills is to step outside of your comfort zone and take initiative. Perhaps there is a project you can help lead because you have expertise in a given area. Or you’ve wanted to improve upon empathy and teamwork so you join a colleague in helping to resolve a situation with a disgruntled client.
There are many opportunities to get creative and tailor your soft skills to not only pique the interest of a potential employer but also improve upon your character and the way you conduct yourself both personally and professionally.