Brush up on your soft skills if you want to get ahead


©Alison Hucks, Principal, Avant

It doesn’t matter if you are highly educated with loads of qualifications and letters after your name, it doesn’t matter if you have loads of experience, if you don’t have the requisite soft skills you may not get the job, or the promotion you are seeking.

Soft skills include:   communication, listening, negotiation, etiquette, effective language skills (including body language), team knowledge and applications, etc. You can clearly see how these skills are important and why an employer or manager will have an expectation of the person in the role regarding these. 

Studies conducted over the years see that employers typically are attributing the same weighting for soft skills as they do for technical skills & experience.  The top three most sought after soft skills are: 

  • positive work ethic 
  • good attitude
  • desire to learn and be trained

So what does that all mean? 

Well, positive work ethic obviously means that you are positive on the job, not negative.  It also conveys that you are for the business, have the business’s interests in mind via your actions and behaviours – you’re punctual, supportive of others, work to deadlines, find your voice at appropriate times.

Good attitude is about looking at things with the right perspective, being able to work to solutions instead of giving up or leaving things to others to sort out. It’s about taking ownership and responsibility for your actions. Have an understanding that others may have different views and ways of doing things from you.

Desire to learn and be trained makes a good employee – great, can help you make the shortlist for the dream job and even land it!  New situations call for a new perspective, if you are comfortable being shown the ropes by others before changing the whole system – good for you! Most jobs these days don’t come with a handover so being able to learn quickly, take things on board and ask questions when needed is gold.  Employers are looking for new starters and those to promote who want to learn as much as they can, those who also can use any training on the job and provide fresh ideas based on their learning.

Soft skills aren’t an automatic given.  They need to be developed through continuous training and self learning. Most of us have a basic awareness of who we are, what motivates us, what stresses us – but in some situations it is difficult to convey this knowledge.

By providing examples (talk about times, work situations and experiences) and evidence (show by directly applying your knowledge) of your soft skillset, the more you set yourself up for success for that interview, that promotion!