According to the Society of Human Resource Management, 97% of surveyed employers believe soft skills are equally as important as or more important than technical hard skills. Whether you’re prepping for a job search or just trying to improve your performance in your current role, it’s essential to develop and strengthen your professional soft skills.
What are soft skills?
Soft skills are essentially non-technical professional skills that can be transferred between career fields or job roles. They’re more about how you work in general and how you interact with others at work rather than how you meet the specific requirements of a particular role.
Why are soft skills so important?
If you don’t know how to be part of a team and manage your work, having all the knowledge and technical skills in the world won’t help you succeed in the workplace long-term. You need strong soft skills to help you work well with others and reach your full professional potential. Plus, demonstrating a robust set of soft skills shows employers that you’re an asset and will contribute to a healthy and productive working environment.
Top 7 Professional Soft Skills
1. Communication. Written, verbal, and nonverbal communication skills are essential in almost any workplace, no matter the industry or location. Written communication spans everything from internal messages and emails to client or customer-facing content. If you have strong writing skills, you’ll be equipped to adapt your message for the right audience and get your thoughts across clearly.
Verbal communication is arguably the most obvious form of communication you need to be skilled in if you want to thrive in the workplace.
Nonverbal communication skills are often overlooked, but they’re essential in a professional setting. This type of communication includes things like your facial expressions and body language, which help get your verbal messages across effectively. For example, avoiding eye contact is a nonverbal cue that shows you’re uncomfortable or intimidated when speaking with a coworker or client. On the other hand, making too much eye contact could make you seem aggressive or awkward. The trick with nonverbal communication is striking a balance and making sure that your actions line up with what you’re trying to say.
2. Teamwork. Even if you don’t interact with co-workers or supervisors daily, it’s likely that you’re still part of a team in some capacity at work. Working with others can be challenging, which is why teamwork is such an important soft skill to develop and use in the workplace. This skill encompasses several different sub-skills, including communication, listening, and empathy.
If you aren’t a good team player and aren’t working on developing this soft skill, you may not be effectively and efficiently contributing to your team. In addition, you might actually be making your coworkers’ jobs harder and less enjoyable. The best way to improve your teamwork is to work on your communication skills and focus on the bigger picture.
3. Adaptability. Employers value team members who are able to grow and change with the organization. As we’ve seen over the past few years with COVID-19, the ability to adapt to change is extremely important in the workplace. Whether it’s transitioning from on-site to remote work or adjusting to a new process that helps you get your job done more efficiently, adaptability is key.
Change can be intimidating, and it’s okay to acknowledge that. However, it’s vital that you’re able to face it and embrace it in the workplace. If adaptability isn’t your strongest trait, be patient with yourself, and remember that it’s okay to ask questions and make mistakes during a transition. Approaching change with a positive attitude will make a big difference. It also helps to keep the end goal in mind while you’re working through changes within your organization.
4. Conflict Resolution. Even though this skill technically falls under the umbrella of teamwork, it’s worth mentioning on its own. As previously mentioned, it’s likely that you already are or will be part of a team in the workplace at some point. Any time you’re working with others, there’s a chance for conflicts to come up. This is due to a wide variety of factors, from clashing personalities to differences in opinions.
At its core, conflict resolution is all about addressing and handling conflict in a productive way that leads to a net positive outcome. Since it involves taking all relevant viewpoints and needs into consideration, conflict resolution relies heavily on strong communication and listening skills. Looking at the bigger picture and the overall goals of an organization often helps, too.
5. Problem-Solving. This valuable soft skill involves the ability to proactively identify problems and come up with viable solutions that will benefit the organization you’re working for as a whole. In order to be an effective problem-solver, you need to be able to get to the root of an issue, analyze the details of the situation from all angles, and present practical options for addressing the problem.
Problem-solving often comes into play when you’re working on projects and tasks alone, but it’s equally as important when you’re working with a team. In any capacity, you can become a more efficient problem-solver by thinking outside of the box, keeping an open mind when it comes to possible solutions, and collaborating with others when it makes sense to do so.
6. Attention to Detail. Most employers want to know they can trust you to keep an eye on even the smallest details involved with your day-to-day responsibilities without having to check behind you for accuracy on a regular basis. Having strong attention to detail with your work means you’ll spend less time fixing mistakes later, which lightens your load and allows you to turn your attention to other projects and tasks when you need to.
One of the best ways to improve this soft skill is to simply try being more mindful when you’re working. Focus on the task at hand and avoid any distractions that might cause you to look over important details. Before you complete a project or submit it for review, take the time to check over it and make sure it’s done correctly and accurately to the best of your ability.
7. Time Management. Managing your time effectively is an essential skill in almost all workplaces. Developing strong time management skills sets you up for success in the workplace because it ensures you’re able to meet deadlines and work efficiently within your organization. This soft skill heavily relies on your ability to organize, prioritize, and optimize.
If you want to make sure you’re using your time at work effectively, practice evaluating the tasks at hand, determining the order in which they need to be completed according to priority level, and making a plan for completing each task on schedule. Blocking out time in your daily schedule for certain tasks and creating detailed to-do lists are great ways to make sure you stay focused and on track to meet deadlines.
Here at Stratice, we can help you with a wide variety of career-related services, including tailoring your resume to highlight your soft skills and impress potential employers. Contact us today if you’re looking for a new role where you can put those soft skills to use!