What are soft skills and how they can help score your next job!
Didn't get a call back for that job you really wanted? Are you frustrated that there was something that you weren’t able to convey during an interview? Maybe you were not able to effectively communicate the value of your soft skills.
Soft skills is a commonly used buzz-word for interpersonal skills, personal traits or social skills - and forms the fundamental skillsets in the job search process.
The concept of soft skills and their importance to job success was first published in 1918 by Carnegie Foundation on A Study of Engineering Education authored by Charles Riborg Mann. Recent research conducted by Harvard University, the Carnegie Foundation and Stanford Research Center have all concluded that 85% of job success comes from having well‐developed soft skills or people skills. Only 15% of job success comes from technical skills and knowledge - also known as hard skills.
That’s a big statement for jobseekers who have focused on their practical experience and qualifications.
What’s the difference between soft and hard skills?
Hard skills are the necessary technical skills that are taught and easily demonstrated by an individual’s qualifications, as well as specific professional or work experience. Soft skills refer to the intangible and non-technical abilities that are less about training and credentials.
What are soft skills?
Soft skills are more personality-driven and relate to the way you handle your professional life. Communication skills, adaptability, empathy, time management, problem-solving, work ethic, team player, leadership are all examples of soft skills.
In the recruitment world, soft skills are constantly being assessed against an employer’s metrics for cultural and job fit. It can be the difference between acceptable candidates, and great candidates. Your soft skills can reflect how you work with others, your ability to interact with colleagues and team members, and your attitude towards work.
Why are soft skills important?
In today’s job market, technical skills alone are simply not enough. Soft skills have become increasingly vital to achieving your career ambitions. To attract the attention of HR and Recruitment managers, candidates need to demonstrate their soft skills. Your ability to clearly articulate your ability to be adaptable, a problem-solver or a good communicator could get you over the line.
A LinkedIn survey showed 59% percent of hiring managers’ responded that soft skills are “difficult” to find. Further analysis by LinkedIn found the most sought-after soft skills among employers are:
- Always Punctual
- Critical Thinking
- Social Skills
- Interpersonal Communication
- Friendly Personality
Do you know what your key soft skills are? It is important to understand your soft skills and how you might demonstrate them before you apply for a job.
Here’s our four jobseeker tips for highlighting soft skills:
1. Match your skills to the job
When applying for a job, match your personal strengths (soft skills) to the requirements of the job. For example, if the job advertisement states: "Manage and coordinate multiple stakeholder requirements". It’s important to show how you have been able to achieve this: "My meticulous organisational ability has seen me effectively manage several projects with competing deadlines, on time and on budget". It’s not enough to state you have organisational skills.
2. Demonstrate soft skills in your resume
Often overlooked, why not add two or three soft skills in your resume. This can be displayed under a ‘competencies’ section or as an achievement within a position you have held.
3. Be interview-ready
Once you have secured an interview, you should prepare responses which express your soft skills. The CAR Model is a good framework to help plan for interview questions and effectively convey your personal skills as applicable to the role.
4. Add soft skills to your LinkedIn profile
Most profiles focus on practical experience, positions and tasks. Add to your profile a paragraph on your strengths as they pertain to your soft skills and the value they would bring to an employer.
Understanding what your soft skills are and being able to effectively express them may well give you the competitive edge over other candidates vying for the same job.