Everything You Need to Know About Soft Skills

By Chelsea Jackson on April 11, 2017

Getting a job is a complicated algorithm. After all, you need to do more than just submit a generic resume in order to get hired. Aside from personalizing your application materials for each job you apply to, you can transform your resume and cover letter from basic to hirable.

After all, Monster claims that “soft skills will get you the job — and help you keep it.”

Image via pixabay.com 

So what are soft skills?

Soft skills are interpersonal skills that you can use to enhance your technical skills and day-to-day job functions. While many soft skills are innate personality traits for some individuals, you can develop and learn new soft skills through experience. For instance, you can learn how to become a better communicator by creating presentations or written content.

Soft skills differ from technical skills in that soft skills represent personal characteristics, rather than learned software. For example: having the capability to adapt to an ever-changing schedule or work environment is a soft skill, whereas strong communication is a technical skill. Often, hiring managers will try to learn more about your soft skills by asking certain supplemental questions on an application.

“Which do you enjoy more: working alone or in a group?” and “How would you react to your supervisor asking you to take a project in a different direction?” are both exemplary examples of how a hiring manager can gauge your soft skills.

Unfortunately, many applicants overlook the importance of soft skills during the application process. However, soft skills are just as relevant as their technical cousins, because soft skills allow a hiring manager to determine if you could be a good fit in their company culture or whether you can fill a niche at their organization.

It is imperative to mention that there are two categories of soft skills: internal and external. According to The Muse, internal soft skills can be defined as how you handle external stressors or how you self-talk. Emotional management and your ability to handle criticism are both excellent examples of internal soft skills. Conversely, external soft skills represent how well you connect with others, like being able to manage and resolve conflicting opinions and general interpersonal skills.

Common soft skills

There are several more soft skills that you can incorporate into your application material; however, the following are some rather common and highly marketable soft skills.

Problem-solving in a work environment can vary. Problem-solving can also incorporate critical thinking skills, as you need an ability to think critically in order to become a well-versed problem solver. You can use your problem-solving skills when you need to make edits to a project under a very tight deadline, or when you need to find a resolution among conflicting opinions on a specific project.

Regardless, you can let your problem-solving skills shine in your cover letter, by painting a story of a specific time and project when you utilized your critical thinking abilities to create an exceptional final project.

Adaptability is your ability to change and thrive when your work assignments and/or environment change. Your versatility can also be described as a “student mentality,” where you have a passion for learning new skills or continue to expand your knowledge of currently established skills. Your adaptability can easily be promoted by stating what you hope to gain and learn from a company.

Collaborative teamwork is seen beyond just being able to work in a group. Teamwork is difficult, albeit similar, from collaborative teamwork. For example, collaborative teamwork is displayed by going out of your way to ask your coworkers for feedback on a task.

Networking is utilized beyond established industry contacts to get a job. Networking in the workplace promotes information sharing, which allows you and your coworkers to learn from one another and implement feedback from a broader viewpoint. Networking in the workplace, like in any setting, can also establish long-term professional relationships which can allow you and your coworker(s) to collaborate on projects in the future.

Multitasking is often mentioned during interviews but rarely expanded upon. Multitasking goes beyond simply being able to work on multiple projects simultaneously. Often, multitasking also includes your ability to manage your time appropriately, which also happens to be an internal soft skill.

Accepting criticism is a vital soft skill to a plethora of professional industries. There is also a significant difference between listening to criticism and accepting it. Accepting feedback allows you to learn and grow as a professional so you can improve your work.

How to boost soft skills

It’s critical that you implement the “show, don’t tell” policy when describing your soft skills in your resume. While you could design a table in your resume to list your individual soft skills, this method is typically frowned upon for any form of supplementary skills. Instead, you should attempt to communicate pertinent soft skills in your experience sections to highlight your past accomplishments and work responsibilities.

Although your resume is a great start to describe your soft skills, your cover letter is where you should expand on your soft skills and how they can enhance your contributions to a particular company.

I live in Iowa now, but I was born and raised in Florida. When I'm not writing, I'm probably drawing or cooking.

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