4 Soft Skills You Need to Succeed

When applying for a job, you probably spend hours toiling over your resume aiming to show yourself in the best light. You list any and all positions, skills, and achievements that make you the best candidate. But there is something critical to success that even the perfect resume is unable to showcase.

Soft skills, though not always mentioned in a job description, are equally as important, if not more so, than your technical abilities.

“There’s a direct relationship between soft skills and workers’ effectiveness, and greater effectiveness on the job translates to better overall business results”Kevin King, founder and CEO of Transformation Point (1)

In an increasingly collaborative, cloud-based world, more and more managers recognize that without certain soft skills, a team can fall apart, clients can be lost, and efficiency can go down the drain. Do you possess these essential skills for success?

Are You a Team Player?

One of the most critical skills in a collaborative environment is the ability to work well with a team. And not just work, but thrive. You may be the most talented person in your company, but if you can’t play well with others, foster a sense of camaraderie, or put the success of the team ahead of your own, then you’re only hurting the team.

A 2008 CPP Inc. study on workplace conflict found that the typical employee wastes 2.8 hours each week on interpersonal conflict. This amounts to over $300 billion per year in lost productivity. If you can’t resolve (or avoid) petty conflicts in the workplace your technical skills may not be as valuable in the long run.

Think about it: Would you put your work aside in order to answer a colleague’s question? Do you feel like you’re in competition or collaboration with your coworkers?

What’s a Work Ethic? (Work Ethic and Time Management)

The terms “goal-oriented” and “self-starter” are often thrown around on resumes, to the point where they have almost lost their meanings. But actually possessing these attributes is not as common. Most employees yearn for autonomy, and most managers want to feel comfortable enough to give it. If you can demonstrate that work will get done when it needs to be without a nudge or a reminder from a superior, then you are proving you are capable not only of managing yourself and your time, but of potentially managing others.

Think about it: Does your boss frequently have to hound you to get things done? Does your workload feel chaotic?

Communication, Communication, Communication

Every day we present proposals, speak on conference calls, and answer dozens of emails—and many of us don’t realize we’re doing it ineffectively. Effective communication includes proper email etiquette, clearly expressing what you need from a team member, and presenting yourself in a clear and professional manner no matter the situation.

On the other end of communicating your own ideas is listening to and accepting the ideas of others. No one wants to hear what you have to say if you aren’t willing to reciprocate. If you don’t know how to effectively speak and actively listen, it will lead to misunderstandings, lost time, and wasted opportunities.

Think about it: How often do you have to clarify your needs to someone? Do you really listen or just wait for your turn to speak?

Everybody Loves That Guy! (Humor, Empathy, Attitude)

“Likeability” is one of the least addressed and hardest to quantify skills in business. No one is going to write “sense of humor” on their resume, and yet it is a key part of any successful team(2). Effective team members know how to take a joke, when to make one, and how to empathize with others. Honing your emotional intelligence goes beyond fostering a positive workplace to building lasting relationships with colleagues and clients.
The more people like you, the more they are willing to work with you, and the more productive the workplace becomes.

Think about it: How well do you know your team members? Do you take the time for interpersonal conversation?

Of course not everyone is going to excel at every soft skill. But knowing your weaknesses and showcasing your strengths will make your technical skills that much more valuable to anyone you work for or with.

  1. http://www.cio.com/article/2878675/careers-staffing/why-soft-skills-are-key-to-a-successful-it-career.html
  2. http://career-advice.monster.com/job-search/getting-started/6-soft-skills-that-could-land-you-the-job-hot-jobs/article.aspx

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