Did you know that the vast majority of employers – 77 percent – believe that soft skills (less tangible skills associated with one’s personality, such as a positive attitude) are just as important as hard skills (skills that are learned to perform a specific job function and can be measured, such as operating a computer program)? AND that sixteen percent of employers said soft skills are more important than hard skills when evaluating candidates for a job. This is HUGE, since most schools are only teaching students technical skills.
Take Steve Jobs for example. He was not known as a technical mastermind and he didn’t even actually study computer science or industrial engineering like Apple’s current CEO, Tim Cook, or company co-founder Steve Wozniak who engineered and programmed the earliest Apple computers. Jobs however, excelled at conceiving ideas and enabling others to fully realize the project. He was also a great showman, just look to any of his keynotes as an example. Jobs didn’t possess the technical mastery of his closest business partners, but for him to succeed, he stuck with what he knew, skills anybody can learn. Communication, collaboration and decision making are all soft skills anybody can easily pick up and implement right away. Therefore, mastering the following soft skills, will help you be on your way to your dream job!
Communication and Teamwork
“The ability to work within a team” is a common phrase on job postings. This shouldn’t come as a surprise but a lot of jobs require working with others. The ability to work with others is crucial and communication is a big key in that. Don’t be afraid of stating your opinions. Companies want new, fresh ideas from new, fresh faces. Bounce ideas off one another, speak up, and fully participate. And don’t forget, asking questions is totally okay too, employers want to see that you’re engaged.
Ideally employers want to hire those who can immediately help in reaching a company’s goals. Fundamentally, goals are reached by overcoming obstacles and you overcome these obstacles by solving the problems laid in front of you. Think outside the norm, tackle problems from a multitude of angles and see what comes up. And remember, failure is just a step towards success.
Just because you don’t have a certain skill doesn’t mean you can’t learn it. See a job posting but you don’t have a certain skill they’re looking for? Ask yourself how bad you want it. If you really want it, there’s no reason not to dive in and learn something new. Being able to adapt to new situations and build your skill set is perhaps one of the greatest soft skills one could have. But in order to adapt you got to have one thing.
Confidence is not just a key to building your professional career, it’s really one of the greatest things you can have to be successful in life. Employers want to see you handle high pressure situations without sweating because it gives them confidence in you. Believing in yourself also helps your team and everybody else you’ll be working with. A great salesman can’t sell a product if he or she doesn’t believe in it. Would Jobs be able to sell an iPod if he didn’t think it was the greatest digital music player of its time?
Multitasking and Prioritization
The ability to prioritize and manage various tasks and complete them on time is hugely important. There’s a reason class projects have due dates, so you can practice getting things done in a timely manner. The next time your instructor gives you a deadline for an assignment think about how your class work ethic may reflect your professional work ethic. Which brings us to the last skill on the list…
Having a strong work ethic is actually the number one most valuable soft skill companies are looking for. Unlike homework assignments that mainly affect your own grade, professional work can have a direct effect on others within the company. Don’t put in half the effort, because your employers and group members will be able to tell. All or nothing.