Often, people are under the impression that technical skills are what will “get you the job.” Although this is partly true, and technical skills are certainly necessary, they are not the only aspect that will shape your success. During the interview process, soft skills are just as important as technical skills to employers.
There are endless types of soft skills, and developing these skills may take time, but expanding your knowledge to become an expert in a few soft skills areas and showcasing them will propel you forward in today’s workforce.
Let’s begin by clarifying what soft skills really are: Soft skills are personal attributes that enable an individual to effectively communicate and work with others. Unlike hard skills, which are specific to an occupation or industry, soft skills are transferable, and useful in every domain of life. Soft skills are crucial in the workplace because they enable employees to collaborate, build relationships, and enhance productivity. Employers also seek individuals with developed soft skills as they can help maintain a positive work culture and create a cohesive team environment.
So, what are the most important soft skills? It’s not as simple as narrowing it down to one or two traits, however, a majority of the most important and useful soft skill traits fall under one giant umbrella of—you guessed it—communication (Schulz, 2008, 148).
Let’s take a deeper look at what our society agrees some of the most beneficial soft skills are:
- Emotional intelligence. This trait, especially for those in the loss prevention field, is extremely valuable. Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify, understand, and manage one’s emotions, and the emotions of others. This quality is present in many great leaders. Studies have also shown a high emotional intelligence score is correlated to high job performance.
- Problem solving. This characteristic is a crucial skill that involves identifying, analyzing, and finding solutions to issues or challenges. To carry out effective problem solving, you must be creative, a critical thinker, and persistent.
- Teamwork. This should come as no surprise. It is important because through teamwork, individuals can leverage their strengths and compensate for their weaknesses. This, in turn, results in higher productivity, and ideal outcomes. There becomes a sense of camaraderie when a group of people are all working toward achieving a common goal.
- Time management. Proper time management can help individuals accomplish more tasks in less time, reduce stress, and improve overall productivity. Being a good planner and staying organized is one way to kickstart effective time management.
- Self and cultural awareness. In today’s world, if you aren’t aware of how or what you say or do could affect others, you might be in trouble. Self and cultural awareness helps individuals communicate effectively with those around them and build solid relationships. It is having the ability to understand one’s own beliefs, values, and biases as well as those of others from different cultural backgrounds.
A person with great soft skills will be able to secure more meaningful, long-lasting relationships, and have an easier time networking. Communication is clearer, and adapting is more seamless. Soft skills don’t come easy to all people; but learning how to embrace and then continuously improve them will certainly go the long haul both personally and professionally.