Hard skills are easy to measure. They’re the things you can put on your resume. They’re things you’ve worked to get better at over time. Whether it’s typing, computer programming, finance, or legal issues, hard skills are important to most careers.
But it’s equally important not to spend all of your time and focus on hard skills alone. Over the years, soft skills have proven to be just as valuable — if not more so, when it comes to landing the job of your dreams.
Soft skills are things that are not easily measured, such as communication skills, adaptability, flexibility, and dependability. You can certainly write those things down on a resume, but without a number or percentage to back them up, soft skills are often things that need to be proven over time.
If you’re having a hard time finding a job, sharpening your resume and honing in on some of your soft skills in addition to your hard skills can make a difference. Keep in mind that employers tend to receive many applications once a job posting is listed. Soft skills can help you to stand out and land the job of your dreams.
Which Soft Skills Do You Need?
It’s hard to say which of these skills are more important than the others. Many times, it depends on the position you’re looking for and the industry you want to work in. Soft skills are also sometimes called interpersonal skills, which is a good way to describe them, as more often than not they are traits that are innately a part of some people’s personalities more than others. So, while one may not be more beneficial than another, some of the key soft skills you need for success in your career include:
- A genuine interest in your work
- The ability to listen
- Knowing how to problem-solve and resolve conflicts
As you can see, these skills are all very personal. You can probably take a look at yourself right now and think about some traits and characteristics you could work on in order to be a more appealing hire. Try making a list of your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to soft skills. It can help to give you a clear picture of what you need to improve.
How to Improve Your Soft Skills
Soft skills aren’t necessarily taught in educational settings. Instead, they are a measure of your emotional intelligence. You can certainly learn and improve your soft skills, but it’s more of a personal effort, rather than an educational endeavor. Trying to better yourself and improve your soft skills will not only make it easier to land a job, but it will help you to work well with others once you do, and find more success in your career as a result.
So, what can you do to improve your soft skills?
Being able to better yourself requires reflection, an open mind, and even a willingness to ask for help.
For example, if you want to improve your creative thinking skills, you might need to get out of your comfort zone or work on a passion project on your own time that requires you to learn something new.
If you want to better your interpersonal skills, think about putting yourself in someone else’s shoes or learn more about the people you work with.
For communication skills, focus on nonverbal cues and look for opportunities to speak with people and improve your jargon as much as possible.
As stated above, it’s okay to ask for help if you’re having a hard time improving your skills. While soft skills aren’t as “teachable” as hard skills, some guidance can often steer you in the right direction. Working with a life coach or executive coach can help you to develop stronger leadership skills and gain self-confidence so you can set your mind on building better interpersonal traits.
Hard skills are important. You’ve undoubtedly put a lot of time and effort into building up your resume with them. But, if you truly want to land your dream job, succeed in the workplace, and become a leader, take the time to focus on your soft skills and how you can continuously improve them.