Glenford Smith | Soft skills for jobseekers
QUESTION: I hear increasingly about 'soft skills' in my job search. How do I go about making sure I possess such skills and competently talk about them? I have to be wondering if this is why I am not getting any calls for interviews.
CAREERS: Thank you for your inquiry. Soft skills refers to the set of personal traits that allow you to work harmoniously and interact effectively with others at work. They do not include the skills you will need to do the job you're hired to do. This is a very important topic to which many job seekers do not pay enough attention.
I cannot say if you have them all, but I would guess that if you have a tertiary education, you would have garnered some of them. As to whether this is why you are not getting any positive feedback from your applications, it would be a guess on my part. There are a wide variety of things that could be the issue not having anything to do with soft skills.
You can judge, though, after you have read this article, which will seek to inform you and the rest of readers how to make soft skills work for you.
Your soft skills will be tested in your interactions with the persons interviewing you and those you meet in your business with the company. But you may be tested although it might not seem obvious to you or to the common observer.
Soft skills are "a combination of people skills, social skills, communication skills, character traits, attitudes, career attributes, social intelligence and emotional intelligence quotients, among others, that enable people to navigate their environment, work well with others, perform well, and achieve their goals with complementing hard skills," according to Wikipedia.
They include common sense and a positive, flexible attitude. Your chances of landing the job go up when you demonstrate that you posses these abilities. Your capacity to deal with the people, to listen well, are traits that your employers will look for. The more you show that you are comfortable in the environment with those present, the better.
Most times, people work on getting the technical preparation for a job. They spend hours on knowing about the company, the principals of the organisation, and very little time working on these skills. That, usually, is a big mistake, especially the competitive environment in which you are.
Soft skills, more times than not, are not taught in school in a classroom and can't be measured. That doesn't mean that they don't count or they count for very little. You may be technically brilliant, but if you can't work well with others, for example, you will not make the grade. Increasingly, you will find that employers look for soft skills over hard skills when they make hiring decisions.
They believe that they can train someone who lacks the hard skills but cannot train someone without soft skills. So it is not something to downplay. Spend some time identifying your soft skills and practise highlighting them in interviews. Your potential employer is looking and will pay attention.
n Glenford Smith is a motivational speaker and success strategist. He is the author of 'From Problems to Power' and co-author of 'Profile of Excellence'. Email firstname.lastname@example.org