Soft skills: landing the job and keeping it

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Landing a job can be a challenge, especially when the workplace competition is fierce. It’s important to have a wealth of tools in your arsenal in order to cruise by the other contenders and secure the position you desire.

It’s one thing to have the necessary hard skills, which are easily quantifiable and teachable, such as computer and technology skills, foreign language proficiency, the ability to create spreadsheets or type at warp speed. However, often the overlooked soft skills can give you the edge you truly need.

A survey conducted last spring by CareerBuilder revealed that 77 percent of employers were seeking candidates with soft skills; 16 percent of those respondents considered such qualities far more relevant than hard skills. So what exactly are soft skills?

Soft skills refer to the manner in which employees relate to and interact with other people. These include a positive attitude, the ability to work on a team and strong communication skills. There is no denying that hard skills lend themselves well to the organization, but the lack of soft skills can negatively impact the success of the company.

Among the most desired soft skills desired by employers as emphasized by CareerBuilder are the following qualities.

Dependability: Employers value workers who consistently arrive on time and get the job done while also delivering quality results.

Problem-solving skills: If you can effectively solve problems by incorporating strong critical thinking skills, you will be considered a strong asset to the organization, especially within a fast-paced environment.

Speaking your mind professionally: Employers seek those who can tactfully voice confident opinions while still remaining open to feedback. Sometimes those opinions can inspire new dialogues and spark innovation and creativity.

Being a team player: A valued employee is one who can work well with others on group projects and who will also coach new employees when they are brought in, taking that person under her wing and initially coaching her through the project.

Embracing the company culture: A survey initiated by Millennial Branding indicated that 43 percent of employers desire employees who fit well with the cultural dynamics. In other words, do you align well with the company’s core values? Forexample, if you are applying for a job at a company that values a strong balance between work and fun in the office, then it is important that you share this outlook as part of their overall culture.

The ability to take the initiative: Can you demonstrate initiative and then effectively springboard that into action?

It can be somewhat challenging to figure out which skills will be the most important to have for your career. Fortunately, unlike hard skills, soft skills require no advance training, and they can be applied by any professional in any career field or at any level. In addition to the ones mentioned earlier, if you truly want to shine as a top contender for a job, the top soft skills for long-term success include the ability to perform well and to consistently remain proactive.

You should excel at self-management and exhibit a sense of control over your work and life as evidenced by the confidence you display. Next, you should have a strong belief that your efforts will result in positive outcomes. Positivity is a mindset that is sometimes hard to achieve and maintain, yet it is greatly desired by employers. Further, if you have a strong support group outside of the office who are your cheerleaders and biggest fans, your chances for success on the job skyrocket compared to the absence of such support.

Finally, it’s a plus if you have the ability to address work problems, learn from your mistakes, work well with others, can effectively plan, organize and prioritize your work. When you have the ability to obtain and process information and desire success not only for yourself but for your fellow employees, you will most likely be recognized by the company as a top employee.

Certainly, there are many other soft skills that you can emphasize during the interview process and can display once you’re hired. Overall, if you have the ability to remain both rooted and resilient, structured yet flexible and you’re able to work independently and within a team dynamic while simultaneously wearing the multiple hats needed to fulfill company missions and goals, then you just might find yourself at the head of the pack.

Remember to come to the interview table prepared to provide examples of how you have displayed any of these soft skills within professional settings, as recruiters are eager to see how you have used these skills to help a company meet its goals and objectives. Then, once you have secured your new job, be prepared to continue to exhibit those strong soft skills that helped you get the job in the first place. ■

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