You’re up to date on certifications. You’ve completed continuing education courses that have given you additional job-related skills. You come to work on time and get positive results for your efforts. Yet, you still are being passed over for raises and promotions. What more can you do?
The people with strong soft skills, in addition to job-based skills, are the ones who shine in the workplace and who are most likely to advance in their careers.
What are soft skills?
Soft skills include a wide range of personal attributes, attitudes, and abilities that allow you to interact well with others. Rather than being based in logic and information, these skills are more fluid in nature. The techniques used to build them vary from person to person. If you ask someone how they are able to speak in public so naturally, one may respond that they focus on a single person in the audience, while someone else will say that they picture everyone in their underwear.
Soft skills include listening and communication, interpersonal skills, creativity and problem solving, adaptability, negotiation, conflict resolution, and time management. While these things may seem like personality traits, they are actually skills that can be built and honed.
How do you build your soft skill set?
Building your soft skill set is much more of a process than building your job skill set. You can attend lectures, read books, and take workshops, but in order to actually master them, you have to figure out what works for you and your personality.
The best way to improve your soft skills is to put yourself into situations where you need to use them. If communication is an issue for you, spend time at networking events and talk to new people. If you struggle with working in teams, take up a hobby that requires teamwork and participation, like a team sport. Are you week in public speaking? Step out of your comfort zone and apply to speak at a conference or event.
Which soft skills are the best to focus on?
There is no “best” soft skill that employers are on the lookout for when giving raises and promotions. Think about your day-to-day in the office and the tasks on your to-do list. How do you feel about your capabilities to handle those situations?
Communication, adaptability, problem solving, creativity, teamwork, public speaking, and negotiation all have a role in the day-to-day operations of any business. Employees who are strong in any of these areas are going to catch the attention of supervisors when it’s time for promotion.
Which soft skills would you like to work on to help further your career?