"Soft skills” are the most important skillset you, as an employee, can offer an employer. When interviewing for positions, the hiring professional will most likely consider the soft skills more of a plus than hard skills.
“Hard skills” are the abilities you can bring to a position: the second language you are fluent in, the number of words per minute you can type, the software you can use. Hard skills are often a result of your education, and your work experience. “Soft skills,” on the other hand, are the skills that reflect your personality, emotional IQ, and communication abilities. Soft skills come into play when you are working as a team with colleagues, dealing with difficult clients, and illustrate your work ethic.
The soft skills that matter most to potential employers are the ones that will convince them that you can do the job, and do it well. Will you see a tough task through to the end? Will you do your best work, regardless of how small or menial the job may seem? Will you establish a reputation for yourself as a strong, reliable worker, and gain the trust of your fellow colleagues and your supervisors?
Other things to consider that affect your soft skills “credit score”:
- Is your self-confidence apparent, but not overbearing?
- Are you willing to accept criticism, and can you learn from the criticism you are given?
- Are you flexible, or do things have to be done your way?
All these traits are important for working as a member of a successful team, which is what most jobs are all about. When being interviewed, the hiring professional is not just listening to your successes and accomplishments, but also sizing up the positive personality traits you can potentially contribute to the organization. No one wants to work with a pessimistic, criticizing know-it-all! You will want to portray yourself as an inspiring employee, someone that others can look to for positive feedback, or be comfortable bouncing ideas off of. You don’t want to come across as always needing to be the star of the show. Knowing when to step up when a leader is needed, or cheerfully following direction as given is an invaluable trait, and one any employer will appreciate.
Hard skills are easily taught and, with practice, can be learned. Not so simple for soft skills! Finding out what soft skills you already possess and what soft skills you could use some work on is just as important as your resume, cover letter, or references.
To learn more about what set of soft skills you can offer an employer, use assessments like Peggy Klaus’ Soft Skills Quiz.
Learning more about soft skills is easy, but possessing them is priceless!