Soft skills are skills that are often driven by personal attributes. They are often acquired outside the classroom, unlike hard skills and include a range of skills that enable you to not only deliver on your role but perform over and beyond, and to build a dynamic work environment that enables everybody to deliver to their best. These skills include communication, team work, conflict resolution and emotional intelligence, among others.
Developing soft skills requires personal initiative and a strong awareness of your strengths and weaknesses. Here are the top five soft skills that you need to work on.
This is the ability to find solutions. This often requires both critical and creative thinking. Problem solvers take time to understand the problem at hand and critically analyse the variables at play. They use past experience and research into the present trends and circumstances to develop the most viable solution. They also often have to think out of the box in order to create new ideas that can be used to address the problem that has arisen. Employers are interested in workers that are able to resolve problem situations as they arise.
The business environment today is highly dynamic. There is always something new, and businesses must be ready to change to the changing times. Adaptability means the ability to keep up with such changes. These changes may require that you adopt new technologies that will enable you to deliver faster, it may also mean changing the way you have been working with customers to give way for a new product or service. Whatever it is, you must always be ready to change with the tide.
Time is one of the most precious resources. Punctuality does not only communicate organization skills, it also demonstrates respect for others’ time. Five minutes can be all it takes for you to either win a contract or lose it. It is therefore unacceptable to be late, as this could have ripple effects across the company. Train yourself to manage time by ensuring that regardless of the occasion, you show up at the agreed upon time.
Organization skills can range from what may appear as simple things such as showing up on time for staff meetings to being able to plan and coordinate company events. Disorganized people come off as sloppy and unable to deliver. If you never keep your word, are always in the wrong place at the wrong time and are never prepared for tasks, it’s time to work on your organization skills.
Great communication skills
We cannot overemphasize the need for great communication skills. These include active listening, oral communication skills, ability to interact with others, good presentation skills and great written communication skills. For you to come across as a good communicator, you must be well informed about what it is that your company or organization does and industry trends. Research is a key requirement in effective communication; whether it is researching an individual, a company or a concept, you can only talk about anything authoritatively if you have put in the work.
Other important skills that you should cultivate include:
– The ability to work well with others (team work)
– The ability to manage your emotions and those of others
– Having a friendly persona that others can easily associate with.
Remember to highlight these skills in your resume, cover letter and during interviews. These should be backed by relevant examples from your past experiences.
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