Soft skills is a term used to describe intangible, non-technical skills that you can’t learn in school or from a book. They include things like communication, time management, work ethic, and critical thinking. Compared to hard skills, they are ways of working and interacting with people and today’s HR recruiters will tell you that they matter now more than ever.
Soft skills are more difficult to learn, and without them, all of the technical training and education will get you nowhere. If you want to make sure you’re hiring the right people for the job, you have to make sure they possess the right soft skills. Some are more desirable than others depending on the type of job, but let’s take a look at the ones recruiters focus on most.
Communication is a broad category that can encompass many things, but unless you work alone and don’t have to interact with anyone else, being able to communicate effectively is important for any job.
Communication isn’t just talking with someone face-to-face, it’s how you come across, including your tone and body language. Depending on the job, an effective communicator may have to have good presentation skills and be comfortable speaking in front of a group. Or maybe you have a job that’s technical in nature and one of your responsibilities is to put complex concepts into layman’s terms. There are countless ways in which we communicate with people every day. If you aren’t an effective communicator, this is the first skill you should work to improve.
Problem-Solving sounds like something that should be handed over to the technical team, but no matter what your job is, each person will encounter problems that need to be solved. The “skill” of problem-solving is how you react to approach the problem. Do you throw your hands up in the air with an “I give up” attitude or do you take a step back to calmly assess the situation? You don’t have to have all of the answers. Being a good problem-solver means you know how to take a systematic approach to assess the problem and then take steps to determine how you can solve it. It could be as simple as gathering a team, knowing more heads are better than one.
This may sound like an easy one, but it’s a struggle for many people. Most people feel like there is more work to do than hours in a day. They run frantically from one task to the next, often getting interrupted to reprioritize and help put out the most recent “fire”. Time management doesn’t mean your days go by smoothly and you’re able to get everything done on time — on the contrary. Being able to manage your time effectively shows that you are able to prioritize effectively, delegate tasks where you can, and overall, that you can work well under pressure.
How well you work within a team is influenced a lot by your communication skills, as well as how you feel about yourself and others. Have you ever been part of a team where someone did all of the talking or thought they knew all the answers? Maybe team members were chastised for giving their opinion or made to feel like their ideas were dumb. In this kind of scenario, there isn’t much of a team feel. A good teammate is someone who is open to new ideas, encourages others, and can continue a positive working relationship even when they don’t agree.
While this skill can be difficult if you don’t normally have a cheery disposition, it’s something that you can work on. Employers want people that are positive and upbeat. There’s nothing that can demotivate people more than a grouchy person full of negativity.
If you’re looking for good people to join your business, don’t forget to look beyond hard skills and technical know-how. It’s much easier for someone with great soft skills to learn the technical stuff than the other way around. Don’t have the time you need to find great quality candidates? Contact SmarterHR Solutions today and we’ll handle all aspects of recruiting, interviewing and hiring for you!