Explore the soft skills we think you need to be more attractive to employers!
Written by Josephine Redfern
What is a soft skill?
Generally, when we think of our talents and abilities in the workplace, things like typing speed, degrees, certifications, and computer programs come to mind. These skills are referred to as “hard skills”. Our “soft skills” are the personal skills that we develop that allow us to work effectively and harmoniously with other people. Soft skills are not something that you can learn. However, they are something that can be practiced and can grow with you throughout your professional development. Employers take soft skills into account throughout the hiring process, and then will still observe them throughout employment. Listed below are some great soft skills you should be continuously working on in order to make yourself and your skills more attractive to current or future employers.
Communication is probably the most important soft skill that employers look at. Communication is often thought of as the foundation of every relationship, work or personal. It is considered to be a soft skill because it is not tangible and cannot be measured. Good communication either exists or it doesn’t. Communication is a major part of any relationship and how information is transferred between individuals. Your communication skills cannot be perfected overnight. Communicating with other people takes genuine practice and effort on each person's part.
Effective communication includes 7 parts:
- Clarity of message
- Checking understanding
- Turn taking
- Active listening
- Choosing the right method
- Appropriate body language
Below is just one activity that you and your coworkers can participate in to practice and improve your communication skills!
Communication Practice Activity:
This activity is helpful for really practicing active and meaningful communication and listening. For this activity you will need a partner, decide who will be the talker and who will be the listener. The talker will tell a story for three minutes about an imaginary vacation they have taken. After the three minutes is up the listener will then repeat back the key points of the imaginary vacation to summarize the story. Next, the talker and listener will discuss any miscommunications or where listening could have been improved. Then switch!
Being a good team player goes hand in hand with being an effective leader. It also shows employers that you can communicate and work well with different groups of people. A lot of what makes up a good team is effective communication. Even if you are not part of an official team at work, you will still be expected to collaborate with other employees. Being able to join forces with other individuals and seeing the value in working team relationships is important. Conflict resolution may also come into play when learning to be a better teammate, as disagreements can be common in a working relationship. Along with teamwork, it’s also good to develop leadership skills. Try your hand at the activity below to hone in on this specific skill:
Team Building Activity:
Escape rooms are a fun way to practice teamwork and leadership with your coworkers and can help to build the soft skills needed to stand out to employers. In an escape room it's crucial that all members of the team communicate and work together effectively. It’s important that the leaders in the group don’t take complete control, and there is shared respect for everyone. Going to an escape room can be a super fun and entertaining way for you and your coworkers to build your team and work on soft skills!
Time management can be considered a soft skill because it incorporates a lot of organizational skills that employers will value. Being able to manage your time appropriately shows an employer that you are able to see the big picture of projects and goals (it can help in your personal life too!). Using good time management, you can map out the details of how to get to a deadline while still doing a good job. Time management is also about learning what to prioritize throughout the day in order to complete tasks on time. Good time management is an amazing way to earn your employers trust with projects! One great tip to practicing your time management skills is to try utilizing a planner and calendar to prioritize items and keep track of deadlines or goals.
Being a flexible employee is very important and can make a positive impact on your work life, and the way that your employer views you. If a problem comes up and you are forced to change your approach to different projects and assignments, your employer will pay attention to the way you react. A flexible employee is one that is able to adapt and is willing to learn new things. However, a rigid employee is one that is upset when changes come up and plans need to change.
Ambition and Focus
Finally, being focused and having ambition is one of the best ways to make yourself more attractive to employers. If you are distracted on the job, and not pushing yourself to be the best employee that you can be, employers will take note. They are looking for someone who takes the initiative and continuously works hard to do their best! To work on your ambition, try volunteering for projects and activities that are outside your comfort zone. This will help broaden your skills and prove that you are a hard worker with big goals.
Although having tangible hard skills are important, soft skills are important factors that recruiters, interviewers and employers look at. Even though you might be the smartest person in the room, someone with more impressive interpersonal soft skills may be considered a better fit for the role.
The Union Home Mortgage Foundation is implementing our own interactive experience for high school aged students. Whether the participants are college bound or not, this done-in-a-day program starts with an overview of UHM, 203 professional development topics, and then ends the day with a panel of UHM professionals and Leadership. Nonprofits or high schools can pick from a wide variety of curriculum topics such as: Communication, Leadership, Financial Literacy, Interview Skills and more! This is a great way to have your students learn soft skills to get them ready for college or their future career!