What Are Soft Skills and Why Do They Matter?
There has been a lot of talk about the job market ‘skills gap’ in recent years. Employers complain they’re not able to fill critical, open jobs because appropriately skilled talent is in short supply. This so-called gap relates to hard skills—learned on the job and/or in school—needed for specific trades or to work with new technologies.
But there are other, important skills employees must possess that are also critical for an organization’s success that don’t receive the same level of publicity. These are known as soft skills and include the ability to:
Employees must be able to effectively communicate verbally as well as in writing, particularly in in any client- or patient-facing position. An often-overlooked (and undervalued) communication skill is listening. Listening involves not only hearing what others are saying, but comprehending what they mean, which isn’t always clear from words alone. Good listening skills enable employees to follow directions and be more productive. In addition, good listening skills facilitate favorable interpersonal relations with colleagues, which contributes to enhanced engagement and productivity. Good listeners provide superior customer service because they understand their customers’ needs.
Get Along with Others
Being able to get along with others may seem like an obvious life skill, but, some people are better at it than others. Good people skills are important in the workplace because they foster collaboration and enhance the team or department culture, increasing general employee motivation and satisfaction. And, people who can relate well to others can open more doors, and get more done, than those who don’t.
The ability to collaborate with others is an integral element of working as a team and is a critical skill for many occupations. Being an effective collaborator entails more than just getting along with others; it involves a willingness to share ideas and resources in the interest of achieving a common goal. Good collaborators understand the big picture and the importance of the team’s work on the bottom line.
Adapt to Change
In this fast-moving, modern, global marketplace, companies must be prepared to pivot and change direction in order to stay competitive. It’s essential that they hire employees who are open to change and are prepared to evolve along with the company’s mission. Unfortunately, human nature makes people generally resistant to change. Employees who are able and willing to adapt are the exception and not the rule, making this a valuable skill.
Employees must be able to critically analyze problems to produce effective solutions. This involves the ability to correctly identify problems from the outset and break them down into solvable pieces. Effective critical analysis skills lead to better decision making which has a positive impact on the bottom line.
Manage Time Effectively
Companies seek out employees who can manage their time effectively for the simple reason that they are more productive than those who don’t. This can be a particular challenge in a busy workplace.The ability to multitask effectively, under pressure, can be the key to employees’ success.
The ability to think outside the box in order to produce innovative solutions to pressing business challenges is an enormous asset in a company’s workforce. Employees who are creative thinkers have a singular ability to look at issues from all sides which provides critical perspectives to companies trying to gain a competitive edge.
Try to Be Your Best
Perhaps at the top of the list of soft skills sought by employers is a good work ethic. This involves a willingness to work hard, always trying to exceed goals and expectations. Employees with a superior work ethic also tend to have an insatiable desire to learn, which enables them to develop new skills, further increasing their value to the company.
Job seekers who possess the hard skills currently in high demand for such occupations as software developer and robotics engineer seemingly have it made. They have their pick of plum positions. But, it’s the soft skills described above, that will help them—and others—get ahead and progress in their careers.
Contact LINK today for help finding employees with just the right mix of hard and soft skills.