Employees tend to look out for soft skills during interviews, so it is important to spend time trying to improve these skills. Your hard skills will get you to the interview stage in your job hunt but it is your soft skills that will land you the job of your dreams. Soft skills are personal abilities which determine how well you work with others, job performances, communication and abilities that differentiate you from other people in your field. While hard skills are job specific, soft skills are the knowledge to perform. While you can take specific courses to improve your hard skills, it is much harder to improve soft skills. In this article, we will outline some ways supporting you with these important set of skills.
1. Communication is key
Communication is the backbone of soft skills, be it written, verbal or non-verbal. The key is to be a clear communicator so as to avoid confusion. One way to do this is by focusing on the point you are trying to make. Using specific terms instead of general pronouns and avoiding the use of indefinite periods of time is helpful as well.
You can improve your non-verbal communication skills by making eye contact; it shows you are paying attention and proves your interest. Making eye contact provides your conversational partner with the feeling that you are more engaged in the conversation. Body language is key, you can also show interest by sitting up and leaning forward slightly. If you are uncomfortable your body language will give it away. Taping your fingers or feet indicate impatience and interviews are trained to spot these cues. It is important to avoid such body language.
2. Team work is crucial
It’s a well know fact that team work makes the dream work. Employers need to know that you are going to be a team player, who is going to be able to work with the existing team members. Team work is an important soft skill because it shows that you can work well with others and when a team works well together they achieve better results. You can improve you team working skills by splitting work evenly, being open minded, making everyone feel important, not making assumptions and praising others whenever possible. During an interview you should aim to showcase the times you applied your team working skills during a project.
3. Problem solving is important
When things don’t always go according to the plan employers need to know that you will be able to take action. You should resist the need to complain during such busy periods. You need show that you are able to stay positive, while motivating others. Ways to succeed here are being optimistic even when things don’t look promising. Be resilient in the face of immense challenges and prioritise your work.
4. Improve on multitasking
This is an important skill as it saves time and it boosts productivity. Some ways you improve this skill include: grouping together related tasks so you can perform the simultaneously when possible, by planning ahead and using your down time wisely.
5. Never forget self-confidence
Above all you will need confidence, I saved this for last as you need to master the first skills in order to apply this soft skill. Confidence should not be mistaken for arrogance however, as this will ruin your ability to work within a team. Employers are always able to spot the difference so control yourself when applying this soft skill.
To improve your confidence, you can visualise yourself in your dream role. Using this technique you will inversion an image of yourself that you are proud of, improving your perception of yourself. You can also do something that scares you regularly. The best way to overcome fear is to face it head on. So the more interviews you do the less scary they become.
Like the hard skills; the more you practice your soft skills the better you get at them and the easier it becomes for you to perform at your best when using them. This article is only the beginning, you should aim to keep practicing and constantly improve yourself.
Written by Itayi Mushambadope