Today’s job market is dominated by positions that require very specific skill sets which often take years to perfect, such as computer coding. For the young adults graduating from college with more debt than tangible “hard” skills, entering the job market can be a very daunting task. This is why it is becoming increasingly important for people to learn how to market their “soft” skills, or the skills that cannot be easily quantified but have a definite impact on the productivity and success of an employee. There are a bevy of soft skills that you can identify within yourself and develop, but here are the top 5 soft skills that can help take your job search and career to the next level.
- Adaptability- The early 21st century has seen rapid changes in technology, culture, and society over a very short period of time. As a result, successful businesses have had to ensure that they were on the leading edge of their industry. Companies that could not keep up with the times were sure to fail as they missed opportunities to connect with new customer bases. So it makes sense that 21st century companies would value employees that can adapt to a constantly and rapidly changing environment. These employees are able to be successful when working on long-term strategic projects, but can alter their mindset to tackle tasks that require a much quicker turn-around. This is particularly important in the world of start-up businesses. A new technology or social trend could offer a small start-up the opportunity to ride that wave towards greater exposure and success. If an employee is unable to adapt on-the-fly, then they will become the weakest link. Adaptability often comes down to willingness to learn and an ability to handle stress in fast-paced, quickly shifting situations.
- Emotional Intelligence- As the United States has continued to move away from straightforward manufacturing jobs towards positions that require employees to communicate and collaborate, workplace cohesion has become all the more important. Employees that can connect with their colleagues are able to better utilize their own skills and abilities as well as those around them. A person with exceptional emotional intelligence is able to notice the mood and motivations of those around them and react accordingly. High Emotional Intelligence makes you a force multiplier, meaning you increase the productivity of yourself and your co-workers by leveraging all of the available talent in the workplace. In addition to increasing productivity, employees with high emotional intelligence can also make the workplace a more enticing and hospitable environment for prospective employees. Your knack for connecting with people and understanding what motivates them can be used to attract new talent to your company. Employers are becoming more aware of the positive impact that high emotional intelligence can have on a workplace environment.
- Leadership- Employers seeking to hire people that will be impactful and game-changers for their company always ensure that they are looking out for leadership qualities. Leaders, regardless of the level of their position, are able to increase the productivity of a workplace by taking on the responsibility of creating success for their company. In essence, leaders see themselves as an integral part of their company and, as such, will go above and beyond in ensuring that tasks are completed and the workplace is running like a well-oiled machine. Much like those with high emotional intelligence, leaders are able to discover the motivations of their colleagues and inspire them to perform at a higher level. Past leadership experience and notable accomplishments are easy ways to show leadership history, but employers can often determine who will be an impressive workplace leader based on their conduct in an interview. Confidence, attention to detail, planning, and a success-oriented mindset are qualities that scream “leader” in an interview and employers are sure to notice if you espouse them.
- Creativity- The outside of the box thinker is able to develop solutions that no one else would even think about. This quality is attractive to employers as it can open wide new avenues for development within the company. Creative minds can take a business in an entirely new and immensely profitable direction. Creativity is often difficult to signal to a potential employer but with a little forethought you can show your future boss all you have to offer. Before going into an interview, sit down and develop a plan of action for taking the company in a new direction. Look at all of the pros and cons and really hash it out. Even if it isn’t something the company would actually ever consider, you will be providing them with a view into how you think about problems, solutions, and the future of their business.
- Entrepreneurship- An entrepreneurial spirit not just a benefit to those who own businesses. An employee who can treat the company as though he or she already owns it will become a major contributor to company success over the long-term. While others are simply chugging along through their daily tasks, the entrepreneurial employee is imagining all the ways that he or she can improve the company. This person will develop new solutions to problems and offer them at will. In effect, the entrepreneurial employee becomes less of a subordinate and more of a partner in creating success for the company. There is a passion for moving the business forward that is unmatched by other less motivated employees. This sets the entrepreneur apart from others in a workplace or even in an applicant pool. In an interview, the entrepreurial applicant is able to display a higher-level strategic view of the company and envision steps that can lead the company forward, even if the position in which they will work would not allow them the ability to order those steps to be taken.
Sharpening these soft skills and learning how to market them can truly take your job search and career to the next level. Employers are looking for the movers and shakers who will propel their companies forward. Applicants with these skills are attractive because they provide the intangible benefits that cannot be quantified but are nonetheless invaluable to a modern business.