Personal growth is always important, and developing the right soft skills can make a huge impact on your career. If you’re looking to better position yourself for a promotion, enhance your resume while job searching, or are excited about chasing professional growth in general, soft skills development is a worthwhile area to explore.
Soft Skills vs. Hard Skills
Before exploring the definition and benefits of soft skills, it’s important to understand its inverse, one professionals are much more familiar with – hard skills.
Hard skills are defined as practical or technical skills that can be easily demonstrated by an individual. These are classic resume items – items such as:
- Post-graduate education degrees
- Professional certifications from organizations such as Hubspot and Microsoft Office
- Possessed skills such as Microsoft Office or Adobe Creative Suite
By contrast, soft skills refer innate, non-technical abilities possessed by an individual. They can often be labeled as tangible or professional skills as well. Soft skills often refer to the general temperament and personality of a candidate. Some examples include:
- Communication –
Effective communicators need to adapt their tone and style according to their audience, make complex topics understandable to both clients and coworkers, and effectively understand and respond to instructions.
- Teamwork –
The core of teamwork is in the ability to be receptive to others working with you. Working in a team towards a unified goal requires strong interpersonal skills. Sometimes you need to lead, and sometimes you need to listen.
- Self-Motivation –
Having a positive attitude and the initiative to work well without round-the-clock supervision is a vital soft skill for any employee. Not only does it demonstrate reliability and commitment, but it shows that you can fit efficiently into a company without the need for constant oversight.
- Flexibility –
People generally don’t like leaving their comfort zone. Flexibility is an important soft skill because it shows a willingness to acquire new hard skills, or try new tasks and new challenges. Employers often seek candidates who can show a willing and upbeat attitude, since many jobs come with the possibility of job role changes over time.
While soft skills may be harder to display on a resume, they have become an important aspect of the interview and review process for hiring managers and supervisors looking to identify top talent.
Why Are Soft Skills Important?
Organizations look to employ and promote individuals who can move a company to new heights. In today’s increasingly technology-driven job market, where positions are being automated at an accelerating rate, employees that demonstrate “big picture” thinking and meaningful collaboration skills are becoming the most valuable.
Take an example of a physician. While the road to medical licensure is based almost entirely on hard skills such as university degrees, undergoing a residency, and passing certification requirements.
A licensed doctor is expected to reliably to diagnose and prescribe treatments for an array of ailments. But without soft skills, even the most qualified doctor will struggle to find success with patients
Reliance on soft skills such as emotional intelligence, trustworthiness and approachability are important to developing an important skills patients expect – bedside manner.
A doctor unable to emotionally relate to and identify with patients will have trouble both relaying and gathering important information and building connections.
This isn’t just in theory – valuable, industry-leading companies such as Google are embracing the value of soft skills too. In 2017, the organization published findings from internal study (codenamed Project Aristotle) comparing work teams to determine the ones most innovative and productive.
They found that their best teams weren’t the ones comprised only of data scientists and software professionals. Instead, they found their most effective teams were interdisciplinary groups of employees labeled with strong soft skills.
Google also stated in their study that the most important predictors of success within their company were soft skills such as empathy-driven leadership, effective communication, and collaborate insights.
While they are less measurable and more personality-driven, it is important to show soft skills as part of the whole package you can offer to an organization. If you’re unsure of the soft skills do you already possess, it’s important to pinpoint how to both identify and feature them when applying for a job or a promotion.
Identifying Existing Soft Skills
The internet is about with quizzes and inventories to identify soft skills. A reliable, evidence-backed option is a 5 minute exam from MindTools. Not only will you narrow down your areas of strength and needed improvement, but you’ll be directed to additional resources to help you do so.
Once you’ve inventoried your soft skills, it’s important to strategize how to show soft skills to supervisors and prospective employers. After all, hard skills are simple to list, but soft skills need to be presented differently.
Showcasing Soft Skills
Since soft skills are more abstract, you have to reinforce any claims with actual examples of when you were able to use them to achieve positive outcomes.
These examples can be drawn from professional, personal or academic experiences. Recount the time, setting, and details of how this soft skills led to a success!
Remember to show, don’t tell: simply stating that you are a great communicator, for example, can show you lack the very soft skill you are claiming to have.
In addition, make sure to tailor examples of your soft skills to the company you’re speaking to. Research the organization’s mission and values and how your skills complement these aspects or not. Creating a clear picture of how your strengths will contribute directly to the organization is important. Consider doing this in the same way you highlight certain hard skills related to a specific industry.
A Continuing Learning Process
The development and refinement of soft skills is a process that continues throughout one’s career. You can never stop growing as a communicator, problem-solver, or critical observer. By adapting this mindset, new trends and research will never go unnoticed!
As Benjamin Franklin once stated, “Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.”
If you’re looking for an experienced, friendly and results-driven team to help grow your business, whether its developing soft skills or adopting an effective marketing strategy, Rizen is here to help!
Visit our guide on training in the marketing strategy proven to match how people shop today – the inbound philosophy.
You can also learn more about why we’re the choice for businesses both large and small for effective growth by visiting www.gorizen.com. Follow our adventures on social media by searching for the username “RizenInbound” on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.
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Nichole Mena is the Creative Director at Rizen Inbound. She has excelled in helping her clients reach targeted audiences in order to meet specified business goals.
In her spare time, Nichole enjoys helping non-profits meet their goals as well. She has been a pro-bono member of the marketing team for Miami’s annual “Gay8 Festival” which currently attracts more than 60,000 attendees annually.