If you want to develop your professional skill set and improve your chances of building a career, you need to improve your soft skills.
These are often transferable skills that apply to several different roles throughout your career and may help you demonstrate your worth to an employer.
In this article, we explore the question ‘what are soft skills?’, the importance of soft skills and how they differ from hard skills.
What are Soft Skills?
Soft skills are the abilities that an employee has that allow them to operate in a more efficient and professional manner. These are largely non-specific, non-technical skills that can apply to a variety of different roles or industries. Your soft skills complement your hard skills and help you develop into a more well-rounded individual. Examples of soft skills include things such as organisational skills and communication skills which can improve how you operate in a team, manage your workload and solve everyday issues.
Why are Soft Skills Important?
While hard skills are typically more important for applying to a specific role, soft skills can help you demonstrate your value as an individual to a potential employer.
These are universal skills that are always important, particularly in a professional or team-based environment.
Improving your soft skills is a great way of supporting broader career development and can help you build the necessary abilities for management roles. Soft skills are also important for the following reasons:
If you have good communication, you’ll be a much more effective team player and improve your ability to convey ideas to senior employees or management.
There are a number of soft skills that can help you improve your communication skills while also helping you develop your interpersonal skills. Having clear communication not only helps in a professional setting but – it can also help you build more enriching and collaborative professional relationships at work.
Soft skills are a fundamental part of your wider skill set and it’s important to have transferable skills that complement your technical skills. Employers often look for candidates who not only have the right hard skills but will also be a good fit for their business.
Building your soft skills is a great way of demonstrating your commitment to professional development and can contribute to a great first impression with employers. Finally, soft skills directly improve your work output because many of them relate to organisation and efficiency.
Improving decision-making and problem-solving
Challenges are present in every job in every business and soft skills play a huge part in how you approach and solve these problems. Transferable skills such as active listening, critical thinking and problem-solving are vital for helping you identify and mitigate issues before they become larger problems. In many cases, problem-solving skills can lead to better risk management, risk mitigation and improve your career potential.
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What are the Different Types of Soft Skills?
There is a range of different soft skills that you might use during your career. Some of the various types of soft skills include:
Having excellent teamwork skills is a vital part of working in a professional environment. When supported by good communication skills, teamwork skills can help you collaborate on tasks, provide positive contributions to team meetings, help the business reach long-term objectives and meet team deadlines.
If you have good teamwork skills, you’re not only helping yourself but also your team, since you can effectively communicate your ideas with other team members or alternatively, listen and implement ideas from those around you.
Time management is another vital soft skill that will serve you well during your career. If you can organise your time effectively, you’re in a better place to manage your workload. This directly impacts your ability to meet deadlines and provide a high standard of work.
In many cases, being able to manage your time can also improve your team’s wider performance, as other employees will know they can rely on you to deliver and plan around you. Time management can also relate to your punctuality, which is vital during your working career, whether you’re arriving at the workplace in a timely manner or ensuring you attend meetings or calls.
Critical thinking is the skill of analysing the facts you have in front of you and using this knowledge to make an informed decision. This type of problem-solving is useful in all forms of work and isn’t specific to one industry.
By improving your critical thinking, you’re less likely to jump to conclusions or make rash decisions that may not be the most effective or efficient. Developing your ability to utilise critical thinking often means taking a step back, evaluating multiple outcomes and using your own knowledge alongside factual evidence to make a positive decision.
Being adaptable is a very desirable trait for employees to have, as it demonstrates that you’re able to deal with fast-moving circumstances. It’s very common for businesses to experience organisational change, delays with projects or require additional resources as they evolve.
By being adaptable, you guarantee that you can take on new roles or responsibilities without requiring a significant adjustment period that may impact business performance. In some cases, adaptability can help you develop a new technical skill that the business requires, which can improve your own development while increasing your potential for progression in the organisation.
Communication is another major soft skill that is important to build and improve as you progress through your career. While communication skills are initially important for working as part of a larger team, this soft skill evolves alongside you.
If you enter a management position, for example, the communication skills you require will change and you’ll be expected to communicate not only with your team but also with more senior members of the business. This means it’s always important to consider how you’re communicating in any given situation and how you could communicate more effectively.
Consider different types of communication as well – this can range from how you speak to people to how you formulate an email or non-verbal cues you give off such as maintaining eye contact.