WHAT ARE SOFT SKILLS AND WHY ARE THEY IMPORTANT?
You divide your employable skills into the categories of hard skills and soft skills. Hard skills are your technical or functional abilities that apply directly to your job title (i.e. accountant, engineer, project manager). Soft skills apply more to your personal characteristics and work ethic such as effective communication, problem resolution, customer service, and team collaboration.
Soft Skills versus Hard Skills
A common perception in the employment arena is that companies prefer candidates who can rapidly perform at the same level of momentum as the rest of the organization. Therefore, they place more emphasis on the hard skills. This is not the case. Your soft skills are vital to the organization’s ability to function effectively both internally and in their industry. Employers cannot discount soft skills when considering a candidate for hire because these characteristics are necessary for a company to maintain a high level of professionalism and customer satisfaction.
One of the reasons soft skills are so important in the workplace is because the tide is shifting in terms of customer relations. Companies hoping to maintain a position in the marketplace are recognizing that service is the new selling. Rather than talking about themselves and their products and services, companies are focusing more on identifying the problems that their customers face and solving those problems. Therefore, your ability to effectively listen, communicate, and solve problems is extremely valuable in any organization.
Do You Have the Required Soft Skills?
When it comes to evaluating soft skills, the challenge for employers is in vetting these skills that candidates present on their resumes. Your responsibility is to not only tout these skills, but prove them as well. Historically, you might have been able to simply say that you’re a “people person,” “team player,” and an “efficient communicator.” It’s too easy to just cite these skills on your resume without really validating them and a lot of job candidates do it. Instead, you need to backup these claims with substantial proof. The following are a few examples:
- Proficient Communicator: Trained over 100 employees on a new product tracking system that reduced customer-order turnaround time from two weeks to four days.
- Team Builder: Key player on team that improved customer satisfaction by redesigning the department’s quality control process.
- Problem Solver: Compiled and evaluated customer input and developed new company-wide customer service policies and procedures.
Employers who are hoping to remain competitive in their markets place an equal amount of emphasis on your soft skills as they do your functional skills. You can elevate your success in the job market by presenting these skills in a way that employers will immediately recognize that they are valid and can be a valuable asset to their organization.