If Covid has taught us anything, it’s that the ability to be flexible, adaptable, and maintain productivity in the face of uncertainty are skills every employer needs in their staff. And given the lightning-fast pace at which technology is moving, hard skills are becoming less of a focus, because no sooner have you learned the current technology than it’s moved on. This is putting soft skills front and centre in job requirements. 

Why Are Soft Skills So Important?

Often, when we are looking for staff, we focus on the hard skills. Can you use Microsoft Office? How skilled are you with a spreadsheet? These are all skills that can be easily learned if a candidate does not already have them. Any TAFE or even Community College course can have someone up to speed pretty quickly.

The tougher skills to learn are soft skills, which is why they are so valuable to an employer, but that’s not to say they can’t be learned.

The Essential Soft Skills

So, what are the key soft skills you should be looking for in a candidate, or highlighting in your resume when you are looking for a job?

1. Interpersonal Skills

– you may think that with the move towards work from home environments, this is not as important as it once was. Nothing could be further from the truth. Meetings via video and increased reliance on email and text communication mean you have to be more aware than ever of your ‘tone’ when dealing with colleagues. This skill is also essential to building a strong team environment, which carries an added layer of difficulty when face to face meetings are not taking place as frequently as they once were.

2. Creativity/Critical Thinking

– being able to think outside the box and not be constrained by ‘how it’s always been done’ is vital in today’s market. Nothing is being done as it once was, and finding ways to do it better, increase workplace efficiency and provide a point of difference will help an organisation remain relevant in the constantly shifting business world.

Soft skills critical thinking

3. Communication

– this is intrinsically linked to interpersonal skills, particularly in remote working environments. Being able to effectively get your point across without alienating others, whether via video, email or face to face meetings will not only impact the productivity of you as an individual, but that of the entire team.

4. Problem Solving

– being able to identify a problem is no longer sufficient. Employees need to be able to also identify and implement a solution. This skill involves critical thinking, forward planning and clear communication.

5. Flexibility

– Being able to change direction quickly, adapt to new conditions or circumstances means an employee can remain productive, regardless of unforeseen circumstances. This is vital when we all now feel like there could be a curve ball coming at any moment.

    Improving Your Soft Skills

    Whilst learning and developing soft skills is often harder than learning hard skills, it is certainly possible. Here are a few suggestions to help you on your way.

    1. Assess what soft skills are most important in your career, and prioritise them accordingly.
    2. Evaluate which skills are your strongest and weakest, and compare them to those required in your career. Where there is an overlap between your weakness, and the skills required is the best place to start.
    3. Seek feedback from co-workers, including bosses, those who report to you and others at the same level. This can help reveal blind spots – both good and bad. And be prepared to accept potential negative feedback gracefully.
    4. Identify others who have the skills you need to develop and observe them. If appropriate, ask for advice or mentoring.
    5. Undertake ongoing education. There are many courses on offer designed to improve soft skills, especially in relation to communication, organisational skills and critical thinking. Usually they can be done online and at your own pace.
    6. Reflect regularly on how you are handling yourself, and make course corrections where you need to.
    Recruitment Soft Skills Interview Ideas

    Interview Ideas

    If you are looking for a job, consider the soft skills we have mentioned and think about examples of when you have demonstrated those skills. Use these examples in your interview.

    I you are an employer looking for staff, build questions around these skills into your interview so you can gain a good understanding of what candidates can bring to the table.

    Katz Recruitment is a full-service boutique recruitment agency working across a wide range of industry sectors and job types. If you are thinking about making a career move, or are looking for a new staff member, and would like to talk about soft skills, or any other area of recruitment, we’d love to chat. Give us a call on 0405 499 228 or contact us here.

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