May 25, 2016
When you know you’re technically qualified for a job, sometimes it can be hard to understand why hiring managers focus on soft skills instead. After all, you’re good at what you do. Does it really matter if you’re polite in emails or easy to talk to on the phone?
The answer, of course, is yes, it definitely matters.
Business is all about people, and that’s why soft skills are so important. They facilitate the connection between coworkers and between customers and employees. If you have all the technical skills in the world but absolutely no soft skills like communication or mediation, you’ll find it very hard for your career to take you where you want to go.
What are soft skills?
Soft skills include all personal interaction and emotional intelligence skills such as being positive and friendly, communicating, solving problems, observing, organizing, adapting and more.
Soft skills are considered soft because you don’t go to school or earn a degree or certification in them; they come from dealing with people and learning how to be a successful communicator in real life.
Why do managers want soft skills?
While soft skills are technically optional, hiring managers know that working on a team takes more than expertise. When answering an informal survey on Twitter, 70 percent of hiring managers indicated that soft skills were very important for the roles they hire.
Managers: How important are soft skills for the roles you hire?
— Simply Hired (@SimplyHired) May 12, 2016
Furthermore, 62 percent of hiring managers said that between two equally qualified candidates, soft skills would stand out over extra certifications or high-profile references.
Managers: Between two equally qualified candidates, what would make one stand out over another?
— Simply Hired (@SimplyHired) May 5, 2016
Working with people and customers requires a certain level of self-awareness and intentional communication. The better you are at communicating and working through challenges (often unrelated to your specialization) the easier it will be for you to collaborate with your coworkers and get work done.
Can you learn soft skills?
If you didn’t learn soft skills organically or through your educational experience, it’s not too late. You can improve these factors and become a more appealing job candidate.
If you’re a talented professional in your industry but you find yourself receiving poor performance reviews or struggling to earn the salary you want, soft skills can help. Our next article will dive into how you can learn and demonstrate new soft skills.