Are you seeking to know what soft skills are? Whether you are a fresh graduate searching for jobs or looking to cultivate soft skills to become more relevant to the workplace, this article is for you.
Soft skills have gained popularity over the years, and their relevance in today’s workplace has become more pronounced.
From being solution-driven to leading to being prompt in delivering tasks, the importance of soft skills cannot be overemphasized.
Gone are the days when hard skills were the only requisite for getting a job. Today, organizations and employers have placed so much emphasis on soft skills that you may begin to wonder what is behind the craze of soft skills.
This article gives a holistic overview of soft skills, examples of soft skills, and their importance to organizations and employees alike. Let’s proceed.
What does soft skill mean?
Soft skills are non-technical skills that individuals cultivate and are relevant in the workplace and life generally.
We may also define soft skills as character traits that reflect an individual’s personality towards work and life in general.
They are sometimes referred to as core skills or transferable skills.
Unlike hard skills, soft skills are not taught in schools as a course of study. Instead, they are built over time through experiences and values acquired from an individual’s interaction with his environment.
However, soft skills can be developed and improved through proactive personal development and training.
What are soft skills examples?
Some top soft skills include:
1. Communication skills
A critical skill that most jobs demand and every employer looks out for in individuals is communication ability.
As an employee, how you interact with superiors and colleagues in the workplace and your ability to present your ideas with clarity are factors employers consider. Also, how you deal with customer complaints comes to play.
Furthermore, it is important to note that communication is in three ways: talking, listening, and writing. Therefore, aside from interacting with others, you need the ability to listen.
Active listening involves giving rapt and noticeable attention to whoever is talking to you, engaging them with reasonable questions, showing empathy, being open and friendly in your communication and feedback.
In addition, good listening skills help you to pay attention to instructions quickly and respond accordingly. Lastly, sometimes, you may need to deliver emails to clients; your ability to write concisely is a necessary skill in this situation.
Leadership is the ability to do the right thing and inspire others to do the same. In other words, a leader is first a good follower and can guide others to follow.
It is a critical and highly sought-after skill in organizations. Individuals with leadership skills are self-driven and goal-oriented. Also, you do not necessarily have to be in a leadership position to show exemplary leadership qualities; rather, you should be a leader regardless of your role in the organization.
In addition, not every individual can perform their functions effectively with little or no supervision. In contrast, leaders can commit to a goal or task with little or no supervision. They are also prompt in delivering their functions and meeting deadlines.
Being a good team player encompasses several skills. For example, you need good listening skills, empathy, and even good leadership abilities to inspire others. Also, you need to be able to communicate effectively.
Furthermore, the success of an organization depends on employees’ ability to work hand-in-hand in developing the organization. As such, teamwork is a crucial soft skill that employers seek in employees.
4. Creativity and Problem Solving
Creativity and problems solving are related. The ability to bring up new or innovative ideas to solve an existing or new problem is creativity. It could also be termed as resourcefulness.
Many organizations prefer to employ individuals who can think creatively and critically to solve internal problems rather than those who only complain about them.
Furthermore, being creative also means you see opportunities that others do not see and can develop ideas that open new opportunities for money-making in organizations.
5. Time and Stress management
The ability of individuals to maximize time by meeting deadlines and working under pressure is a high priority for most organizations.
Because most jobs are demanding, organizations seek individuals who can dispense their jobs efficiently and effectively while beating time.
Moreso, in cases where there is a tight deadline to meet, individuals who can compose themselves under undue pressure are preferred by the organization. Lastly, organizations frown at individuals who have little or no regard for time and exhibit such by showing up late to work.
6. Conflict management
This is a skill more peculiar to human resources managers and those in customer service roles in an organization. However, conflict management is a worthwhile skill for all employees.
Conflict within organizations disrupts productivity; individuals need to understand how to deal with each other and handle cases that may lead to conflict within the organization. Conflict management also involves tolerating one another and being empathetic.
A well-needed skill, particularly for entry-level jobs, is openness to learn, relearn, and unlearn. It also involves being flexible and quick in adapting to a new organization, new roles, or tasks as an employee.
Openness can also be seen in how you react to criticisms from superiors or colleagues. Interestingly, how you welcome ideas from subordinates as their heads also proves openness.
8. Discipline and consistency
The statement, talent is never enough holds true in organizations too. Those individuals who demonstrate a strong sense of discipline towards their work are preferred to talented individuals who are not disciplined.
In the same vein, organizations need individuals who can continually deliver their work efficiently and effectively. This way, employers can rest assured that they will get optimum productivity every time.
9. Persuasion and negotiation skills
Having a soft skill is not negotiable for individuals involved in sales and marketing, public relationships, or any positions that involve striking a deal.
These job roles require that individuals exert their influence on individuals and convince them to the organization’s advantage. Therefore, persuasion and negotiation are the top skills that organizations demand.
Are soft skills important?
As discussed earlier in this article, employees with soft skills tend to outperform those with only technical skills. Soft skills are beneficial to both employees and organizations and are essential for many reasons.
Importance Of Soft Skills To Employees
1. Better positioning for job opportunities
Most organizations do not just lookout for individuals who have the technical know-how for a job; they look for individuals who have some characteristics that can drive their success.
For instance, in the case of a job opportunity, job seekers who have demonstrated flexibility and willingness to grow may be chosen over an expert who is stiff and not open.
2. Capacity for growth
Employees with the required soft skills for a job experience far more significant growth on the job than those who lack them. The ability to be creative, lead, or provide solutions to problems can help individuals gain promotion in their workplace within short periods.
Such individuals bring more value to the table. As such, organizations may be compelled to make them supervisors, increase their pay, and even give them other additional benefits.
3. Ability to stand out
One of the core importance of soft skills to employees is that it helps you stand out in your job. Someone who has both leadership skills and technical knowledge would outshine someone who only has the knowledge of the job.
Also, through leadership skills, an individual can dispense his job effectively and drive others to work, particularly when working as a team.
Importance Of Soft Skills To Organizations
1. Improve organization’s productivity
When an organization has employees with soft skills such as time management, self-drive, critical thinking, and so on, such an organization is bound to experience growth. Organizations without individuals who have soft skills may find it difficult to progress. Employees may find it difficult to work together as a team, or even provide solutions to problems within the organization since soft skills are lacking.
2. Help organizations hire right
It is not enough to hire individuals who can do a job. You want to hire someone who can do the job well. As a result, organizations highlight relevant soft skills as part of a job description. This helps them make the right choice when it comes to choosing talents.
Moreso, several individuals have the talents or skills required for a job, but certain characteristics are necessary to make an individual stand out in dispensing their responsibilities, and that’s where soft skills come in, in the hiring process.
3. Sustain the company’s culture
Every organization has its values and its vision and mission statements. Organizations want to employ individuals who have soft skills that align with their company culture.
For instance, an organization that thrives on teamwork would not want to hire an individual who cannot work with others in a team. Moreover, good communication skills foster understanding and respect between employees, a fundamental culture in many organizations.
By evaluating an individual’s soft skills, they can know if they can preserve their organization’s culture.
How To Articulate Your Soft Skills As A Fresh Graduate
Whether you are applying for an entry-level job or switching from another organization to a new one, you’d need to demonstrate your potential by showing how you’ve been able to apply soft skills.
For a fresh graduate with little experience, you may prove competent to employers in these ways:
- Highlight instances when you presented during group assignments, projects. You may also state your service in relevant positions like P.R.O that involves passing information across to a large number of people to prove your communication skills.
- You may articulate your leadership skills by highlighting a campaign you led, or positions you took up as an undergraduate, and your achievements.
- Note your contributions towards team projects, team competitions, etc. to show your teamwork ability.
- State your impact in activities targeted towards social impact, or how you provided solution to a problem during internship to show your creative skills.
- Highlight instances where you met up with deadlines with tasks in school or an organization you intern as a prove of time and stress management.
- You can prove your negotiation and persuasion skills by sharing how many people were able to join a campaign your led, or an online training you organized.
What soft skills are important?
Leadership skills, time management, communication, teamwork, and discipline, are all important soft skills that you should cultivate. However, every other soft skill is essential, depending on the role you’re applying for.
What are hard skills?
Hard skills are technical skills acquired through training and are specific to a job. For example, a doctor is trained to diagnose and treat patients.
Why do you need a soft skill?
You need soft skills to be more relevant to the workplace. Having hard skills is not enough to be an excellent employee; you need soft skills to stand out as an employee.
How can you develop soft skills?
You can develop soft skills by proactively committing yourself to courses that would make you explore some character traits. For instance, you may take up a leadership position as a class representative or a leader of a school society to build leadership skills.
Soft skills are important for employees within an organization. As a result, organizations are putting resources into employee training to help them become more aware of soft skills and how to cultivate them.
In addition, it is vital that the awareness of soft skills spread across to undergraduates to prepare them for the world ahead. This will help reduce the unemployability of graduates upon graduation.
Furthermore, those seeking entry jobs could strengthen their CVs and gain an advantage for job opportunities by highlighting their soft skills.
Lastly, if you wish to develop more relevant skills, check the article on skills to learn.
I hope this article helped. Thanks for reading.