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What are soft skills?

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Published on 05 February 2020

The world is constantly transforming around us, and methods of exchanging goods and services globally are adapting naturally to the ways of the world. Your job hunt is no different.

The interview process is no longer centred around where you’ve worked, what you studied and who you know. There is so much more to increasing your hiring potential, particularly with the influx of artificial intelligence that is taking over the various methods used to acquire work.

There is no better time to focus on developing the soft skills that are rarely talked about in traditional job hunts. This doesn’t mean that hard skills aren’t beneficial, they are, however employers are increasingly seeking workers based on potential rather than experience.

So what is the difference between hard and soft skills?

Soft Skills are interpersonal skills such as the ability to communicate well with other people and to work in a team.

Hard Skills are a type of work or activity that requires special training or knowledge.

That being said, we have created a model of some examples of soft skills that tend to be high on employer’s priority lists and
therefore are good ones to consider developing.
 

Employers who consider a worker’s soft skills in the hiring process are more likely to create a more diverse workforce and reduce bias. In conjunction with this, employees who put in the time to develop these skills and improve their employability will also improve the productivity and environment in their current or future workplace.

Developing Soft Skills
We spend so much time studying, working, and gaining experience to increase our hard skills, but there are a number of simple things you can do to develop the soft skills that also hold a crucial place in every job role.

Travel
Get outside your comfort zone! Book yourself a solo trip and you won’t believe how much you can learn. Travel, while fun, can be stressful and always involves putting yourself into environments you’re not used to. Immersing yourself in unfamiliar food, culture, and language is not only eye opening, it also allows you to develop skills such as self-management, flexibility, and responsibility that easily transfer into your professional life. If you don’t want to spend a great deal of money, consider a day trip to a new area you’ve never been before!

Do an online course
Soft skills do not require any prior knowledge or study, so taking a course is a great way to develop the soft skills you currently possess or familiarise yourself with any soft skills you may lack. Typically, a soft skill course will cover things like verbal and non-verbal communication, critical thinking, listening, story-telling and presenting abilities. The other great thing about soft skills is that they are valuable regardless of your career path.

Volunteer
Involving yourself in an activity that benefits others and has no monetary value for you, allows you to develop skills as well as a new perspective. Volunteering almost always involves working within a team, requires you to use initiative, and often presents you with challenges. It’s a great way to improve your problem solving skills, meet new people and boosts your communication skills without even realising you’re doing so. Not to mention, you get to help someone do something they couldn’t have done alone and really make a difference.

Set goals
Having the skills to work towards a common goal is a crucial attribute for any employee, even if you work autonomously. Goal setting alone is not enough, there is a skill to ensuring your goal setting holds value. This can be done by using the SMART model for goal setting:

Specific    Measurable    Attainable    Realistic    Time bound

Setting goals is important, but also a waste of time if they are unachievable or do not motivate you to achieve them. By following the SMART method for goal setting and applying it to all areas of your life you hope to progress, you’ll be amazed with how much you can achieve.

Reflect
If you lack soft skills such as, presentation skills, teamwork or communication, put in the time to consider why and how this could improve. Are you taking part in activities you are not passionate about? Is your motive to please others rather than yourself? If so, it could be having an impact on your dedication to a current hobby or job.

Write yourself a list of any activities you currently participate in and underneath each one, list the soft skills you possess and any you think you lack. Look for trends in the parts of each activity that relate and consider a job that you are likely to display the greatest amount of soft skills. Not only is this likely to bring out the best in you, you are also more likely to find happiness in an activity you perform better in.

At Berry Recruitment, we pride ourselves on our understanding of both soft and hard skills and the quality of our career advice.

To get a free skill evaluation, call your local consultant today!

Source: Collins Dictionary
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What are soft skills?