Using Soft Skills to Get Hired
Soft skills have been a hot topic in the business world over the last few years. With a heavy emphasis on highly technical STEM careers, the “softer” subject areas and skill sets that typically fall within the Liberal Arts realm have fallen to the wayside. But what are soft skills and why are they in such high demand?
What Are Soft Skills?
Soft skills are non-technical skills that relate to how you work. They include how you interact with peers, how you solve problems, and how you manage your workload. These skills directly relate to how you work. They include interpersonal (people) skills, communication skills, listening skills, time management, and empathy, among others. Modern hiring managers typically look for candidates with exemplary soft skills because they make employees more successful in the workplace. For example, an employee with excellent technical skills can still be a hindrance to their team if they cannot manage or timelines or work effectively with others.
How Soft Skills Work
Soft skills are also important to the success of most employers as nearly every job requires employees to engage with others in some way, shape, or form. They are transferable skills that can be utilized regardless of the specific position in which an employee holds. This makes job candidates with soft skills highly adaptable employees. It takes soft skills to be able to actively listen to others, provide others with effective communication, and reaching goals as a team while hitting timelines.
Examples of Soft Skills
· Creative Thinking
· Work Ethic
· Time Management
· Problem Solving
· Critical Thinking
· Conflict Resolution
· Stress Management
How to Develop Soft Skills
· Be open to feedback
· Communicate often
· Emphasize teamwork
· Build positive relationships
· Step outside of your comfort zone often
· Always be willing to learn
· Adapt to changes in the workplace
· Observe others
· Listen more attentively
· Work through conflict without shutting down
· Take on active leadership roles
· Arrive to work on time consistently
· Learn to manage your stress levels
· Think very clearly prior to speaking
· Be confident, even when you don’t want to be
· Leave your ego at the door
More In-Demand Than Ever
As was mentioned above, soft skills typically take a backseat to the hard skills of STEM within the modern digital world. It has been found in various studies that many STEM students lack several soft skills that, while they are good and productive workers alone, they struggle to thrive in a team environment. Being well-versed in soft skills makes individuals excellent at adapting to ever-changing work environments as well as easily trainable. Also mentioned above is that hiring managers have begun trending towards prioritizing candidates with soft skills who are willing to learn over candidates with hard skills who are stubborn to personal and professional growth.
Highlighting Your Soft Skills
But how do you highlight your soft skills to hiring managers? You could start by creating a professional online profile such as LinkedIn and remember to “show and tell” even if it’s not really your style. Allow your resume to get your foot in the door. During the hiring process, ensure you avoid abstract statements such as “I’m a good team player.” Instead, use real-life examples of how your work as a team player helped complete tasks. “I used my experience with A to assist B in the completion of C” is a much stronger statement. Always think of ways to give concrete examples of your soft skills that you can fit inside compact anecdotes or brief stories. Speaking of which, stories are one of the greatest ways to share how your soft skills, often learned through trial and error, will make you a welcome and valued asset to any company.
Soft Skills Possessed by Veterans
If you are a hiring manager or a veteran, continue reading below to see examples of soft skills veterans can add to your organization.
Skill #1: Grit
Determination + Resiliency = Grit. Veterans know the key to completing a mission requires a combination of critical thinking, creativity, and refusal to accept defeat. Faced with overwhelming odds and limited resources, service members often find creative ways to complete their mission objectives. Employers know veterans possess the grit necessary to dig deep to complete missions, projects, or company goals in high stress situations.
Skill #2: Servant Leadership
Companies are looking for leaders. Veterans are groomed from boot camp to adopt a servant leader growth mindset. Simply put, servant leadership is a critical soft skill that nearly every veteran possesses without even realizing it. A fine example of what servant leadership looks like is quoted below.
“Soldiers can sense when their leaders genuinely care about them, and this builds trust. This trust forges a bond between all and solidifies the team. That bond is all-encompassing. Soldiers know the leader genuinely, care about their needs and the leader trusts that the Soldiers will do what is required to complete the task and get the mission accomplished.” — 1SG Cameron Wesson, Retired, NCO Journal
Soft Skill #3: Communication
While communicating in the civilian workplace is typically very different than the military, the fundamentals of effective communication remain the same. According to the National Associates of Colleges and Employers, written communication is the #3 most desired quality overall of employers. Employers want to hire candidates who can write coherently, think critically, and analyze quantitative data. Veterans are hard-wired to create plans of action, several potential courses of action to prevent single points of failure, and follow-up with after action reviews after execution in order to analyze sustainments and improvement to be made to literally anything! This is the same model that many top businesses use in the design and execution process, from technology companies, to investment and finance companies, to careers in the fitness industry.