In job advertisements, you’ve likely seen things like “bachelor’s degree in finance” or “3-5 years of experience in a similar role.” Those are hard skills—specific and oftentimes quantitative. But soft skills are a bit more vague and intangible. I’m focusing on my top five soft skills to get your brain headed in the right direction.
Possibly my number one soft skill, passion is nearly impossible to gain through learning and certainly cannot be bought; one either has it or they do not. But when a candidate has passion, it can oftentimes outweigh a lack of technical experience. Why? Because an individual with passion will move mountains. Whether at work or off on vacation, passionate people are always thinking about their work. It’s a labor of love and it shows.
Play nice in the sandbox
Regardless of title or position, we all have to play together in some capacity. Unless you own your own business where you work completely independently and don’t have any customers, you’re working with people. Employees who work with numbers and reports are still responsible for delivering that information to a real person. One way or another, everyone is part of the proverbial sandbox, and we truly do all have to coexist and get along.
Even for the most brilliant and gifted technical master, written and oral communication are key. One can have all the hard skills and knowledge in the world, but said knowledge cannot serve anyone very well without the ability to communicate that information to others. And if you’re still not convinced of the train wreck that can ensue without strong communications skills, check out one of our recent blogs on email etiquette.
Debbie Downer need not apply
It only takes one person to bring down the morale. With that in mind, employers and teams everywhere are hoping to avoid negativity. While many soft skills cannot be learned, attitude is one of the exceptions. It requires some retraining of the brain, but it’s quite doable.
This may be the vaguest of all the soft skills we’re covering today; it manifests differently for everyone. At the literal level, it could be as straightforward as maintaining a tidy workspace. At the more abstract level, it could be more about managing deadlines and projects. For me, it’s all about keeping the momentum moving in a forward direction. Whether you accomplish that by keeping a Zen workplace or by creating organized, detailed task lists for yourself, it comes down to getting the job done well by not creating your own roadblocks through disorganization.
At some point in the very near future, take some time to think about which soft skills apply to you and how you might be able to market them. When you have an opportunity to show versus tell, definitely do that. For example, you can show excellent written communication skills by crafting a fantastic cover letter or impress with your top-notch oral communication skills simply by using them when you speak with prospective employers (and everyone else in your professional life).