The Best Soft Skills for Any Path

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It’s a really strange time to be caught in a job search, with a lot of grads and recent career changers trying to stand out in an already crowded field. One of the best ways to set yourself apart is through your soft skills.

What are soft skills?

Soft skills are the personality traits and interpersonal skills that tend to be harder to quantify. Although these aren’t always the easiest to illustrate on a resume, soft skills are the difference between a good and a great hire. To expand upon your soft skills, mention them in your cover letter and interview, and be sure to elaborate these with your past experiences.

Although skills vary by career path, most companies look for the following soft skills in the workplace and in a candidate:

  1. Persuasion
    Being great at persuasion does not mean you are good at arguing. While the goal is to convince others to follow your course of action, purchase a product, or even make a commitment you should never think of this as adversarial. It’s all about making a case for your perspective in a non-aggressive way. The goal is not to make your idea win but instead to help the other party see where you are coming from and why that is valid.

    This can come in handy in any interaction you have in the workplace, such as coworkers, clients, or even your boss. A great strategy for persuasion is to know the data and be open about your idea’s limitations upfront. By doing this you’re acknowledging your solution isn’t the end all be all and people will respond to this with contributing ideas as opposed to a debate.
  1. Collaboration
    Everything in business is collaborative nowadays, with team-based work becoming the norm in almost every industry. If you can’t work in a group effectively, then you are in for a rude awakening. A good way to start is just to think about other people’s perspectives and how they might be seeing an issue.
  1. Emotional Intelligence
    Emotional intelligence is one of the most important things in today’s workplace and it makes sense why. Being able to recognize emotions and react properly will help you both as a professional and as a person. If even one person on the team is off it can throw the whole workflow into disarray.

    We can break down emotional intelligence in the workplace into two sections:

    Conflict Management
    It’s in our nature as humans to disagree so we need to learn how to disagree healthily. The route of many arguments is that people aren’t feeling heard, so focus on communicating what you mean and how you feel in each issue. Even more importantly, listen not just to what they are saying but what they mean, if you don’t know then ask. If you don’t then it can only become an issue.

    While it might not seem as important, delegating tasks between teammates is a vital part of emotional intelligence. Not every person is suited for every task and that’s fine. The best teams specialize in what they do best so you need to learn your team. This is especially important in startup and new business culture since the managing format is more decentralized, so if you can’t delegate you will suffer. This is why you need to learn your skills and the skills of the people around you if you want to become a leader.
  1. Adaptability
    Employers love people that are adaptable. They know you can handle if anything goes wrong or needs to be adjusted without hands-on management every time. The biggest thing that makes someone adaptable is not being afraid of failure. If you fail and give up, you just failed. If you fail, adjust, try again, and then succeed, you’re much more likely to progress in the long run. This is where you can set yourself aside from the group as a reliable and adaptable team member.
  1. Organized
    Staying organized is the best way to show yourself as someone employers can trust. It shows people that you’re able to plan, prioritize, and execute any task given to you. This might sound corny but start by making your bed and cleaning your room. If you already have this done then find your clutter, everyone has somewhere they’ve let get out of hand. Another great way to think about organizing is to organize your workspace. If all your files are in one or two folders then get organizing. This will only help you work more effectively and it’ll start to impact how you look at other parts of your life.

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