Whether you’re a graduate looking for your first job or a seasoned professional wanting to progress to the next level in your career, there are certain skills that - if mastered - will set you apart.
While it’s important to keep honing and developing your own industry-specific skills by staying on top of new regulations or trends in your field, just as vital are your “soft skills”. Soft skills are know as non-technical skills, or the personality traits and behaviours that make it more likely you will succeed in your chosen profession or organisation.
Here at InstaPeople we encourage all our candidates to develop these six vital soft skills.
As we all know, technology is changing at break-neck speed. Digital transformation has changed - and continues to change - the way we work. According to Digital Switzerland, “One in three jobs in Switzerland is set to be taken over by software, robots and smart machines by 2025.” This doesn’t necessarily mean that jobs will be in short supply - in fact, we can expect new, different types of jobs to emerge. The 2018 WEF Future of Work report calls for businesses to take an active role in supporting their existing workforces through re-skilling and up-skilling. This means that companies are looking, above all, for candidates who are keen to learn new skills, expand on what they know and increase their knowledge base. If you can demonstrate that you’re open to lifelong learning, you’re on the path to success.
No matter how good your ideas are, if you can’t communicate them in an engaging and persuasive way, they won’t count in the work place, and your career progress will be affected accordingly. You need strong verbal communication and confident presentation skills to assert yourself and make an impact on your colleagues and managers. If standing up to present in front of a crowd makes you nervous, don’t be hard on yourself - you would be unusual if it didn’t! The only way to improve these skills is to practise, practise, practise. Take every opportunity to put yourself in these uncomfortable situations, and the more you do it the more natural it will feel.
Even though it sometimes feels like we’re operating in a world ruled by tweets, gifs and emojis, the value of written communication remains high when it comes to your career. Whether you need to communicate in a professional manner to clients by email, or deliver a well-constructed business plan to managers and stakeholders, written communication is a vital skill that, when lacking, is glaringly obvious. Work on your written skills, ask for feedback from others on the way you express yourself in writing, and learn from constructive criticism. Also, don’t forget to use spell check and reread what you’ve written before hitting “send”!
In a world where demands on our attention are constant and distraction is only the beep of a phone away, it is essential to develop strong time management skills. When you are expected to deliver on a project in a certain timeframe and your team is depending on you to do your part, it is not acceptable to miss deadlines. Developing time management skills and understanding how time consuming certain tasks are also takes practise, but there are certain tools you can use to ensure you manage your time efficiently. Time blocking, list making, using the Do Not Disturb function on your phone or office chat app, and planning your workload on a physical, visual calendar, are a few techniques that can help you to stay on track.
Life and work doesn’t always go the way you thought they would, and when the unexpected happens you need to be able to show agility, problem-solving skills and creativity to find a solution. Whether in the eyes of your colleagues or your managers, these skills will never go unnoticed or unappreciated, and if you can build a reputation for being an adaptable and solution-orientated member of the team, you will not only be well-liked, but your name is more likely to come up in promotion and leadership discussions.
This really is the X-factor of soft skills. Being able to see things from others’ perspectives helps you to understand their emotions and reactions in any given situation, and is a vital component to interaction in the workplace. Your interpersonal skills with your colleagues will depend on a strong sense of empathy. Even when you find yourselves in disagreement - which in a healthy environment where opinions are freely expressed you often will - empathy helps you to find a satisfactory solution and learn from it instead of alienating one another.
No matter your professional path, developing soft skills is going to help you walk it faster more elegantly. It’s vital to take time to improve these skills - read books, take courses when they are offered by your company, and read articles online. Perhaps most valuable of all, watch the people you admire in the office and the mentors in your life - learn from them, and never stop growing.
For us at InstaPeople, your success story is our success story, and we’re here to help you every step of the way. Get in touch with Lindy and her team today so we can accompany you on your recruitment journey.