So, you’ve spent so much time developing the ‘hard skills’ needed to succeed in your new field, but what about the soft skills required for your new role?
Hard skills are the things you have learnt in during your formal educational, work-related training or courses, maybe spreadsheets, management or auditing to name a few.
These hard skills are your technical knowledge in your chosen field and are vital for you succeed in your new career.
Without the right soft skills to complement your technical knowledge, you will find it difficult to succeed in your career.
It is very important to carry out self-reflection on your soft skills to enable you to improve on and sell these skills to potential employers.
Usually, soft skills are those that you develop yourself over time and not necessarily taught in school, university, or training.
These types of skills make you a more rounded person and employee. Without soft skills it would be hard for you to effectively apply your technical knowledge within a commercial setting.
Whatever your role, all employers will look for indications that you have the right skill set. Either through your CV and cover letters or if you are interviewed, your answers to their questions.
Highly sought-after soft skills include:
- Problem solving
- Time management
- Effective communication
You may be reading this list thinking; I have these skills already or I need to do some work.
If you already have these skills, then you need to think about how can you apply them.
If you do not already have these skills, do not worry. Everyone needs to carry out self-development, it may just be that you need to focus on different areas to increase your soft skill set.
So, What Soft Skills Apply To The Business Sector?
In short, all of them, but the importance of each depends on your job role.
All business professionals need to have time management skills, how else would you be able to hit deadlines and work under your own steam?
Being able to effectively break up your working tasks, with enough time to complete them, to the required standard and on time is extremely important.
Think about a project manager working within a large team using ‘SCRUM’ framework, not hitting their deadlines will impact on all those involved in the project.
If you are not reliable then you are not employable. The importance of reliability and trust cannot be emphasised enough.
Many people fall into the trap of taking on too much work or overreaching their skill set. There are many reasons for this happening, maybe you want to come across as a hard worker, up for a challenge or are unprepared for the demands of your job.
Being unrealistic about your abilities and not delivering on time can make you seem unreliable and impacts on your chances of success.
Think about the impact on a company’s performance if its workers regularly failed to perform their duties in full. The company would not be able to operate efficiently.
You know what you want to say, but how do you say it?
Whether you are working with clients face to face or communicating ideas and solutions to your colleagues, effective communication is extremely important.
Verbal and non-verbal communication skills play a very important part in how you present yourself and the information you are sharing.
Knowing your audience and adapting your tone, language and body language increases the effectiveness of the message.
Being able to communicate with your audience in a professional and effective manner is developed over time.
Think about a HR manager explaining KPIs to a new employee without extensive knowledge of the business, they will need to adapt and change their language accordingly, so the employee understands the information.
Creativity And Problem Solving
Whatever your job role, you need to be creative in your problem solving and solutions.
Being able to think outside the box (lateral thinking) is an important skill, especially within the business sector. Being able to draw upon knowledge from other sources or disciplines and applying this to the task in hand is one of the most important soft skills you can possess.
Think about a developer creating a brand-new product that has never been created before. There would be no examples or tutorials to follow to come up with a solution.
It is important that you can adapt to a new company and team dynamic in any role. Being able adopt new working methods and ways of thinking can enable you to make the best of your working environment.
Given the fast pace of the business sector, with new technologies and consumer demands, adapting and changing with the times will help you stay at the top of your game.
Think about an admin assistant who starts a new job in a flat hierarchy company with an informal chain of command after working in a tall corporate structure with defined channels of communication. They would need to adapt to a more relaxed ad-hoc environment.
Teamwork and Leadership
Being able to work within a team is essential in many roles and can be the make or break of your career. Being able to work well with colleagues and clients, participating and sharing ideas makes for a more enjoyable working life.
If you like everyone you work with then great, however as with everything in life you may have team members you don’t click with or to put it bluntly, like on a personal level. The skill here is to still be able to work with them professionally and without prejudice.
Even if you are not the team leader, there are times when you will need to take the lead. Leadership calls upon all the skills mentioned in this blog. Being able to effectively lead a team to achieve its end goal is a skill that you will develop over time.
Think about an architect working in a multi-discipline team discussing the best design for a building. They will need to lead the discussion to ensure their specialist knowledge is applied and understood by the team.
Hopefully we’ve provided you with some ways that you can use the soft skills you already have in various aspects of your business, or given you some pointers on what areas you many need to improve upon.
Do you use soft skills? Let us know in the comments below how you use them and in what areas of your business (and life) you use them in.