We always focus on hard skills when we are recruiting new staff. Can a candidate type fast enough, what software programmes do they know, what are their technical abilities? These tend to be the kinds of questions we are asking in an interview, or skills we are looking for on a CV.
But what about soft skills – where do they fit in and are they as important? Well we think they are – more so in some ways! Soft skills are becoming increasingly vital to employers when they are differentiating between candidates with similar experience and education. Soft skills are the key attributes which will make a candidate stand out from the competition and it’s something we should be putting at the top of our wish list.
So what are soft skills and why are they so important? Soft skills are anything such as:-
- Displaying a positive attitude
- Good communication skills
- Having a professional work etiquette
- Getting along with other members of the team
- A quick thinker or a problem solver
- A team player
The problem is, the importance of these soft skills is often undervalued, and we need to change that view! You could have the best education in the world, but if you don’t have the correct communication skills or the enthusiasm and motivation at work, then you aren’t going to get very far.
While technical and experience-specific skills are still really important to a hiring manager, soft skills can give candidates an edge and show potential employers the personality benefits that they would bring to the role.
So what are hiring managers be looking out for when they recruit based on soft skills? They are looking for candidates who are confident, motivated, flexible, organised, passionate and friendly according to research conducted in the UK earlier this year. And the top two soft skills sought after in the UK job market are dedication and commitment. Skills like these will show the interviewer that you are loyal and you won’t let them down.
So when you are applying for jobs or attending interviews, how can you show that you have some of these skills? Try to think of times in your career where you have used your initiative or added value in your role. You could ask previous bosses or work colleagues to write you a testimonial asking for proof of these soft skills in your work.
Do you volunteer for any local groups or clubs? That’s a really good way of showing your commitment to the community, or a charity or something which you enjoy doing outside of work. It shows that you are passionate and committed too.
And remember to present yourself in a good manner in the interview process. Just by acting a certain way, it can show the employer that you are confident, friendly and professional. Remember to smile, act positively and keep eye contact – these are all good ways of showing what kind of great employee you could be.