Employers are increasingly including soft skills requirements in job offers. What do they really mean and how can they affect a career?
Hard and soft competencies
If you want to develop as an employee and be successful on the job market, these days it is not only specialized, professional skills that count. These are hard competences, so called because of their concrete and definitely practical character. They may also be connected with experience gained
Equally important are features gaining popularity in recent years, known as soft skills. They include predispositions which enable efficient communication, effective cooperation or coming up with interesting ideas. They are often connected with natural abilities attributed to the personality of a given person. It is also possible to shape and develop them.
What are soft competences?
Soft skills include communicativeness, ability to work in a group and flexibility. People with such features should also be independent, dynamic and good at time management. One of the most frequently mentioned skills of this kind is creativity. What makes soft skills specific and at the same time unique is that they are capacious, immeasurable, and sometimes difficult to clearly define. For many people this fuzziness and a certain lack of concreteness makes it difficult to discover and also to develop them in themselves.
In what jobs are they useful?
Professions where these types of traits are very important most often include sales, marketing, management or simply working with people in the broadest sense. Although today they prove valuable and desirable among other professional groups as well. Some people may find it surprising, but more and more often you can meet such expectations among many different employers. The owner of a company looking for, for example, an engineer or IT specialist with good interpersonal skills is not an uncommon exception.
In fact, soft skills can be useful in any job. You never know what situation you will have to face and using them may allow you to overcome difficulties and get what you want. The ability to handle a variety of often volatile circumstances is highly sought after by employers. By demonstrating the desired personality traits, you can prove your commitment, show that you are the right person for the job and strengthen your position in the company. Soft competencies are not only the domain of the professional environment. They are also important in everyday life, therefore improving them may bring positive effects on many levels.
Soft skills in an interview
Soft skills not only affect the job you want, but may also be decisive in getting the job. The job interview is a very important, crucial event when applying for a position. Everyone wants to perform at the best possible level and demonstrate knowledge and professionalism. Sometimes, however, this may not be enough. In a situation where two candidates of similar qualifications are competing against each other, it is the soft skills that will prevail. Therefore it is worth to pay attention also to this aspect, because without these features even the most competent employee may turn out to be wrong after some time.
Can they be learned?
Not everybody has equally developed soft competences. Moreover, some people admit that they are not their strong point. To check your interpersonal skills, it is worth, for example, taking a psychological test. It will tell us what we can be proud of, and which qualities need improvement. There are many ways to improve your soft skills. In order to do so, it is best to read books on the subject or take advantage of courses and trainings, as well as practice these qualities in practice.