Most occupations will require an employee to have specific technical skills and certain abilities that allow them to do their job. These abilities are known as hard skills and will usually involve some sort of educational programme in which the person will receive classroom instruction and often practical training as well. However, despite the importance of these skills for a job, to work in any occupation you also need what are referred to as soft skills.
What are soft skills?
Soft skills are the personal character traits and individual qualities that we each possess. They make up who we are, generally encompassing our attitudes, habits and how we interact with other people. Unlike hard skills, soft skills cannot generally be taught through education or training, however it is possible to acquire them through different work and life experiences.
Examples of soft skills
Verbal Communication, Interpersonal Skills, Writing skills, Problem Solving and Critical Thinking, Active Listening, Active Learning, Organisational, Time Management, Team Player, Professionalism, Reading Comprehension, Flexibility and Adaptability
Benefits of soft skills
Soft skills help to improve the way that we interact with our bosses, co-workers and customers. Every single occupation you can think of demands that you have specific character traits, as these allow us to use our technical skills and knowledge efficiently to perform to the best of our ability. For example you could have excellent technical skills but if you are given numerous projects to complete and have bad time management skills then you will not excel in your work the way you might be expected to.
The great thing is that soft skills are transferable between occupations. If you choose to change careers this may mean you have to go through extensive training or even go back to school to learn new hard skills, whereas you can take your soft skills with you wherever you choose to go as they are valued in a variety of fields.
When looking at a job advert, you will often see that as well as the list of qualifications and technical skills required for a job, there will also be qualities such as “excellent communication skills,” “strong organisational skills,” “team player,” and “strong listening ability” listed there as well.
Even if you have the technical skills needed for a job, if you can’t demonstrate that you have the soft skills required then you probably won’t get the job. Get yourself off to a good start and put together a CV that lists accomplishments that demonstrate the desired traits and find ways to discuss them during your job interview.