Soft Skills Just as Important in Landing a Job

by Kayla Garcia on Friday 24 January 2014, 4:18 AM | Category: Career Planning| View: 1657 views
 
 
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 You've graduated at the top of your class. You took the most challenging courses from the most respected professors. You honed your skills with internships and entry level positions, and you joined networking groups, so you can get to know the leaders in your field and gain better insights in the issues facing the industry. You're confident that it will be easy to land a better, higher-paying job, especially now that the market is improving.

That might be true — if you have the right skills. We're not talking about the technical know-how that you've gained from your coursework and work experience. Chances are you're not going to apply for any job where you lack the most fundamental skills to actually perform the work.

The skills you need to land a job today are what are commonly known as “soft” skills. These are the attitudes, qualities, habits and social graces that may not be easily quantifiable, such as your communication skills but that help determine your value to the organization. As some employers point out, technical skills can be taught, but it's very difficult to teach someone how to be a people person or to change a “lone wolf” into a team player.

According to one study, the most important soft skills that a candidate can bring to the table when looking for a job are a willingness to be a team player, communication skills and positivity. However, there are other skills that employers value as well, and it's important that you demonstrate them in your application packages and interviews.

Willingness to Learn

Most employers are willing to train new employees; in fact, it's expected that most new hires will have to manage at least some type of learning curve when they first join the company. That means that employers want to hire people who are willing to learn. They want employees who will ask questions, make corrections and take the initiative to broaden their horizons to bring more value to the company. This also means being willing to continue your education outside of the office by attending classes and workshops or even earning an advanced degree. Being willing to add new skills to your repertoire shows that you're serious about the company — and could give them a competitive advantage.

Emotional Intelligence

While some argue whether emotional intelligence is truly a form of intelligence, few employers will dispute that EI is important in the workplace. Simply put, EI is your ability to identify, manage and control your own emotions as well as those of other individuals and groups. In other words, when things go wrong, how do you handle them? Are you able to accurately interpret the emotions of others, and behave accordingly? In today's fast-paced, competitive and high-pressure business environment, having the ability to control your emotions is important, and employers are looking for people who generally remain on an even keel and don't cause drama in the office with their wild mood swings or explosive reactions.

Creativity

There are some fields where you might think that creativity isn't necessarily valued, but employers are looking for people who are willing to think outside of the box when it comes to problem solving. In fact, problem solving is one of the most important traits that employers look for in employees. They do not want employees who constantly come looking for helping solving issues. They want independent, critical thinkers who can identify problems and develop creative ideas for solving them on their own.

Motivation

When opportunities present themselves, do you take them? Or are you content to rest on your achievements? Employers want employees who will take intiative, and who will seek opportunities and act on them. They want people who will ask questions and strive for continuous improvement, both in themselves and in the organization. Don't assume that once you land a job, you're in the clear. You need to show your boss that you're motivated, and that you care about your work and the organization.

These are just a few of the soft skills that employers are looking for in prospective employees these days — and not all employers put the same emphasis on certain skills as others. However, it's important to realize that when you're interviewing for a new job, you're going to be judged on more than your technical know-how and accomplishments in the classroom, so be prepared to show, through examples of your past experiences, what you will bring to the team in terms of soft skills. 

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