7 job-ready soft skills you need today
7 job-ready soft skills you need today
Soft skills have always been critical to career success, but their relevance in the workforce continues to evolve. These skills are universally required for almost every job in every industry. But today automation, digitisation and evolving workforce needs have elevated the importance employers place on soft skills.
In fact, according to Deloitte Access Economics, soft-skill intensive occupations are expected to account for two-thirds of all jobs by 2030. With digital innovation altering the way we operate, and the jobs and skills in demand constantly evolving, employers look for jobseekers who have the soft skills required to succeed in the workplace and in the face of constant new challenges.
While soft skills don’t come naturally to everyone, they are skills you can learn and practice. So, if you want to improve your soft skills or want to stand out in the job market, here we look at the key soft skills in demand today.
What are soft skills?
Firstly though, what are soft skills? Soft skills in the workplace are considered personal strengths. They encompass the mix of personal attributes, behaviours and social traits you call on to interact and work successfully with others.
To put it another way, when we form a view of what a colleague is like to work with, we customarily call their soft skills into question. Your soft skills are frequently rated in subjective terms (as opposed to hard skills, which can be tested and appraised against objective measures). They are also skills you use in life in general to maintain positive relationships.
Why are soft skills important in the workplace?
Soft skills dictate how well you work with others. Regardless of how strong your hard skills (also known as technical skills) are, if you are unpleasant to colleagues, unwilling to collaborate, fail to communicate, unable to solve problems and can’t adapt to change, you’ll find it difficult to do well at work. Clearly then, soft skills differentiate career success and career failure, meaning it's essential to develop the soft skills employers value in job candidates today.
Types of soft skills
The world of work is constantly changing – rapidly. With soft skills considered vital for career success, you must therefore build on your existing skills to present as a well-rounded candidate to future employers.
Here are seven soft skills examples that are commonly requested by employers: teamwork, problem solving, communication, adaptability, critical thinking, time management and interpersonal. Below, we explore each in detail.
7 essential soft skills in demand
When it comes to soft skills in the workplace, certain qualities, attributes and traits are valued above others. While there are countless examples of soft skills, such as conflict resolution, strong communication skills, a willingness to learn and even a strong work ethic, based on our conversations with employers we know that the following seven important soft skills are the most commonly requested. These are the soft skills employers want to hire, so make sure you upskill in these areas if required, add these skills to your resume and can prove your soft skills to a potential employer in an interview.
With effective teamwork, teams are more productive, deadlines are met, staff relationships grow stronger and corporate knowledge is shared. If you work well in a team, you achieve common goals while supporting and complementing the strengths of others.
Employees with strong teamwork skills keep their team’s objectives in mind, understand their own individual responsibilities as well as the responsibilities of all team members, are supportive and positive, communicate regularly and actively listen to others. Find out how to develop your teamwork skills.
2. Problem solving
In our constantly evolving and fast-paced world of work, knowing how to determine the best possible solution to new and complex problems will ensure you can always come to a successful outcome. With no shortage of problems to be faced at work, strong problem-solving skills ensure you can understand then solve any challenge.
Effective problem solvers identify and appreciate the real problem being faced, research the situation and processes behind the problem, understand all the complexities, then draw on their critical thinking to brainstorm possible solutions and determine the best possible resolution. Find out how to develop your problem solving skills.
Strong communication skills allow you to understand others and be understood yourself to reach a successful outcome for all relevant stakeholders. Effective communicators are skilled at verbal and written communication, while they also understand non verbal communication cues.
For example, strong communicators know their audience, stick to the point, use clear and concise language and are empathetic. They are aware of how their body language, non verbal cues and tone of voice convey their message. Crucially, they’re also active listeners who take on board the perspectives of others. Find out how to develop your communication skills.
Just as you need good problem-solving skills to resolve the constant stream of challenges and change occurring in our fast-paced world of work, so too do you need to be able to adapt to this continuous change. Not everyone has the ability to deal with change positively, so being able to quickly and successfully embrace change and adapt accordingly is a core workplace skill.
Those who are adaptable make sure they completely understand an impending change and keep an open mind. They look for opportunities in the change and plan the practical actions they need to adopt or perform differently as a result of the change. They focus on the positives and are not afraid to step outside their comfort zone to establish a new routine. Find out how to develop your adaptability skills.
5. Critical thinking
Critical thinking skills are valued in the workplace because they allow you to rationally analyse and review information to make an informed decision. By making decisions based on careful analysis, you can form successful plans, perform effectively, take advantage of opportunities and always respond in an informed and rational way to situations and challenges.
Critical thinkers consider a situation from all angles and all relevant points of view, gather the necessary information, then analyse it rationally. They keep an open mind when drawing conclusions based on their analysis. Then they use their problem solving and communication skills, mentioned above, to determine the best possible solution and explain it to others. Find out how to develop your critical thinking skills.
6. Time management
Knowing how to effectively manage your time at work helps you take control of your day and ensures you dedicate enough time to the tasks that really matter. With only so many hours in the working day, time management is a process whereby you intentionally allocate your time productively and effectively. This ensures you achieve all your most important and urgent tasks, to the benefit of your employer, team and career.
Those who excel at time management prioritise what is genuinely urgent and important, schedule their days to allocate time to the most essential tasks, then commit to their plan – all while retaining a certain level of flexibility in case priorities shift. Find out how to develop your time management skills.
Interpersonal skills are those that allow you to build relationships and communicate well with others. They are the behaviours you use every day to interact and get along with people and so underpin positive working relationships.
Those with strong interpersonal skills are active listeners and have a high level of emotional intelligence. They can resolve conflict, communicate well and collaborate effectively to maintain mutually beneficial working relationships. They enjoy rewarding professional relationships. Find out how to develop your interpersonal skills.
Job ready soft skills
Being ahead of the curve by developing the essential soft skills employers value will help you stand out to employers, both now and in the future. After all, organisations are made up of people, and business is facilitated by interactions between people – meaning soft skills are only going to become even more important in the future of work.
When you combine these important soft skills with digital literacy and relevant technical skills (also known as hard skills), you’ll have a solid skills base to future-proof your career in the years ahead.
Soft skills development: How to improve soft skills
Once you’ve identified the soft skills you need to develop, determine your upskilling plan. Begin by acknowledging that you must be open to change. Resisting behavioural change and soft skills development is a mistake, so accept the need for change and commit to carrying out your upskilling.
Then determine how you’ll upskill. There is a wealth of free online learning activities available, such as taking online courses, watching video tutorials or seminars, listening to podcasts and reading advice.
It’s also advisable to work with a trusted mentor or friend. To be a good mentee and get the most out of the experience, meet regularly, have a clear purpose, be receptive to your mentor’s advice, talk through challenges, successes and failures, and plan next steps.
Next, practice. Look for opportunities to flex your advancing soft skills in the workplace. Ask for a stretch assignment and take on a task outside of your comfort zone to challenge yourself. Use your new skills often for repeat practice and find opportunities to incorporate your advancing skills into your everyday work.
Finally, refine your skills. Ask your boss or a trusted colleague for honest feedback to ensure you have made genuine progress developing your soft skills.
Once you feel more confident in each of the above soft skills, make sure you update your resume and cover letter with these new and improved skills. Be ready to discuss and articulate in job interviews how you have developed your skills, providing examples of the quantifiable results achieved as a result.
Free online learning courses with Hays Learning
If you are looking to improve your soft skills, Hays Learning is our online learning platform covering technical, digital and soft skills. With Hays Learning, you can access a range of free online learning courses, including courses on these sought-after soft skills. Why not get started today?
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