You’ve all heard a lot about hard skills and soft skills or ‘human skills’ as some people prefer to call them.
Sometimes it’s hard for students to demonstrate that they have the technical or professional skills for a role because they haven’t had the workplace experience. As well as these “hard skills” learned through your education or training, we all know more employers these days are focusing on the soft skills like critical thinking, problem-solving and collaboration.
While soft skills aren’t explicitly tested in interviews, they can be a huge part of the hiring decision – not to mention playing an important role in making you successful in any work environment. To help you land that new job, below is a list of the top soft skills and hacks in the areas that employers look for.
1. Critical Thinking
Critical thinking is the ability to objectively assess, analyse, and break down a problem into its core roots in order to come up with solutions. A successful critical thinker is able to look at a problem from multiple angles, as opposed to having only one perception of the problem, giving them the ability to create multiple solutions.
An easy way to improve your critical thinking skills is to grab a few puzzle books and work your way through them. Try to select books that don’t solely rely on logic, but rather contain more complex problems. Have an example of critical thinking or problem solving ready to share in an interview, or even add it to an application where it suits.
2. Collaborative Spirit
The ability to work well with others is important in any work situation. It can affect a team’s mood, workplace atmosphere and business outcome. Knowing your role within a team and having the ability to fit in and collaborate well with others is a skill that is always highly regarded by employers.
It’s important to prove that not only are you a team player but also have the ability to manage, delegate and take on responsibilities while building positive working relationships that help everyone to achieve their goals.
Provide examples of where you have demonstrated you’re a strong team player – it could be in any situation – volunteering, playing sport at school, being part of a club or society, or some other leadership role. Try to also include the outcomes of this engagement when you are describing it.
3. Communication Skills
The ability to communicate and present is an exceptionally valuable skill in today’s job market. Public speaking is a common fear of many people but is becoming more important in business. Many businesses expect their employees to be able to present confidently to clients and other team members.
Communication skills are not just verbal. Good writing, grammar and spelling are also important if you want to get ahead in your career. Everyone has to write work emails and as you progress up the promotion ladder you’ll probably need to write reports. Both writing and verbal communication skills can be improved through practice.
For public speaking, it’s true that the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Try public speaking in front of people you feel comfortable with, this will help you to build your confidence over time. There’s a lot of good advice on the web on how to help overcome the jitters. The main thing to remember is to be really proud of yourself for doing something that scares the hell out of most people because a lot of them will never even take that chance.
For written work, use free online spelling and grammar tools like Grammarly to help you, but always proof-read to ensure it makes sense, sometimes these tools aren’t 100% right.
4. Be versatile and open to learning new skills
Every job requires basic technical skills, for example, being able to use Microsoft Word or sending an email through a mail client. There are a lot of other skills you can acquire if you want to land a job in your industry, for example, digital marketing could be something you want to work in and things change very quickly in this industry in terms of new tools, web apps, SEO rules.
With the rapid change in technology, it is imperative in today’s workforce for individuals to be able to adapt and learn. Always consider yourself a ‘lifelong learner’ and stay on top of the latest knowledge and capabilities to be able to perform tasks in order to get the job done.
5. Initiative and Entrepreneurship
Being entrepreneurial is not about starting your own business, it’s about your ability to ‘be on the front foot’, be innovative, creative and taking the initiative. This trait or skill is always a big winner with most employers we speak to.
Try to show off this ability in your application or interview by giving examples where you have suggested ways to improve something that was being done, or came up with new business ideas.
Probably the most valued trait of all. Do what you say you will do – Always. Once you get the job, come in a little earlier than expected to a workplace, or stay a little later than expected. It doesn’t need to be much – 5 minutes, either way, can be enough. This is always noticed by employers and earns you big brownie points.
If you have a referee that can vouch for your reliability when applying for a role, that will really help your chances. Make sure, however, that you’re prepared to deliver on that front. If a referee vouches for you and you don’t live up to what they have said, that affects their reputation as well as yours.
At Ribit our aim is to reduce the skills gap in Australia and help students understand what employers need. Read our 10 tips to get hired fast and take a look at our skills-up page for real-time data on what employers on the Ribit platform are looking for and the resources to help you take the next step in your career.