what companies want: the importance of soft skills

Our grasp of soft skills could make the difference between getting that dream job and rejection, so it pays to think about how you can develop these skills and demonstrate them to hiring managers.

You may rely on your technical ability to get you an interview, but that won’t always get you the job or help you make the role your own.

Soft skills, regardless of the position you’re applying for or the state of the job market, will always be in high demand. According to LinkedIn economist Guy Berger, “hard skills vary based on the job, but soft skills are required for every job”. Even if your role is specialized and technical in nature, you’ll benefit from being able to display adaptability and communication skills, among others.

Even if these abilities do not come naturally to you, these are skills that can be developed if you are willing to put in the work. This will ensure you're as attractive a candidate as possible.

 

Communication.


When you get into an interview for a job you really want, what’s the most important thing you have to do? Communicate. You’ll have to convey why you’re the best person for the job.

Therefore a candidate with strong communication skills is likely to be hired over one who lacks in this area - even if they are more technically skilled. In fact, Mr Berger’s analysis found that communication was the most sought after soft skill by employers.

Regardless of how technical and even insular your role might be, in order to really understand what’s being asked of you and to get your ideas across, you’ll need to be able to communicate well with your colleagues and managers.

If you’re not a great communicator, there are various courses that can help boost your abilities. Plenty of colleges offer evening classes in building communication skills specifically for business purposes, which can help you share your thoughts more effectively.

 

Organization.

Knowing what needs to be done and when is one of the most important aspects of working life. Prioritizing and scheduling specific tasks can ensure that work is completed to deadline and in the correct way.

When projects are properly planned, there is less chance of something going wrong - but even if it does, a well-organized worker will typically have factored in contingency plans, so the outcome won’t be as bad as it could have been.

There are plenty of productivity-boosting apps available for computers and smartphones that 
can help you boost your organizational skills with minimal effort. Exploring some of these could be the first step towards improving your organizational skills. Testing what works best for you is also a good idea. Maybe you physical diaries more helpful or calendars linked to your email account are better for you.

Adaptability.

Knowing that employees are able to adapt to changes within the organization or the wider industry can help give companies the confidence they need to move with the times and keep up with what’s happening in the market.

Adapting to change is an element of resilience, which is essential to a company’s continued success. Organizational restructuring, new regulations and other changes can have a significant effect on a workforce but if you’re resilient then you’ll be able to withstand what’s thrown at you.

Being resilient to changing circumstances can also help you highlight your importance to the company. If changes are introduced, being enthusiastic about how they’ll benefit the company will help you to maintain a positive profile.

Staying calm being receptive to new conditions will go a long way toward helping you and your team stay creative, which will let you work on new solutions for any issues that might occur.

 

Analytical.


Analytical skills can help you see solutions to problems that may not be immediately obvious. Thinking this way allows you to visualize, articulate and solve problems by using the information available to make decisions.

When you think analytically, you break down more complex problems into individual components that you can then solve more simply. You can also look at elements of a situation and use them to make a strong argument for or against something.

Being able to collect and analyse information and use that in your problem solving can make you a far more appealing candidate than someone who does not demonstrate this ability.

Even in creative roles, analytical skills are necessary. Knowing the potential outcomes of something will help you establish the best course of action, which can then change what you initially planned to do.

Taking every opportunity to practice your skills will help develop them, so volunteer to be part of problem solving meetings and shadow those involved in that process at your company.

 

Teamwork.


Your ability to work well with others could make the difference between loving your job and 
finding it frustrating and un-enjoyable.

Good relationships with your team can make everyday activities more pleasant, which then reflects on the quality of the work produced. Happier workers are more productive, after all. A recent study by the UK’s University of Warwick found that happy employees are around 12 percent more productive, which makes a great case for wanting to help out your teammates whenever possible.

Keeping a friendly and approachable demeanor will go a long way toward boosting relations with your co-workers, so you’ll be able to work comfortably and effectively with them on various projects.

Being a true team player can also mean that your colleagues will trust you to cover any work they can’t do themselves. Hiring managers value this highly as they don’t want to spend their time in conflict resolution meetings and prefer to lead happy and productive teams.

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about the author

Anthony Hodge - Global Content & Digital Marketing Communications Manager

Anthony Hodge has over 15 years of professional experience in marketing and communications. He has the great role of bringing Randstad's thought leadership to the spotlight through research and reporting on the global job market to real industry-leading audiences. Next to creating insightful content, Anthony is the program manger of the HR Transformation Forum - a think-tank of over 150 global Chief HR Officers - to discuss real-time dilemmas and strategy.