You go to school and get training mostly to develop a hard skill; which is good. But today’s employers and business landscape desperately and increasingly yearn for important soft skills. Millions of young people leave school with similar hard skills, qualifications and technical knowledge every year. Developing in-demand soft skills is what differentiates the average from the top performer.
Soft skills are personal attributes that influence how well you can work or interact with others; as well as how effective you can be at your job. In essence, they are essential for your success in the workplace, your company’s success and your personal life. In most cases, employers and leaders will prefer to hire someone with relevant soft skills and train them on the required technical skill; than hire a technically sound person that lacks these essential soft skills. In today’s video, I’ll share with you some of the most desirable soft skills in the market today and how to improve them so that you can join the ranks of top performers. Before we get to it, be sure to subscribe to After School Africa for more insightful videos like this.
1. Communication skill
It doesn’t matter how many great ideas you have in mind. If you are not able to communicate your ideas, take and filter through feedback, and convince other people, then your idea does not exist. Whether as a student, professional, employee, employer, or business owner, you need to be able to communicate with people effectively. This includes speaking, writing, listening and thinking through what people say. An often overlooked but important communication skill is being able to hear what people are not saying; that is non-verbal communication. It is said that only 7 percent of communication is verbal. The remaining 93 percent is non-verbal. In other words, 93 percent of communication is body language and tone of voice. Great leaders are particularly good with their non-verbal communication skills as well as interpreting other people’s.
2. Problem-solving skill
The lockdown of businesses due to COVID-19 pandemic had put everyone on their toes on the need to solve the problem of sustaining their businesses and jobs. It has created a competitive landscape where only the people who can quickly come up with solutions on how to deal with the problems companies face can thrive.
Even before the pandemic, 62% of recruiting professionals identify problem-solving as a skill that gets you hired. Companies face a lot of challenges. Those better at coping with challenges thrive; while those less able ultimately fall behind. Problem-solving is part and parcel of everyday life at any company, and it involves the ability to:
- analyze facts and figures
- define challenges
- devise contingency plans
- assess processes and
- create and implement solutions
To develop problem solving skills, you have to be curious, proactive and adopt a learning mindset.
3. Time management skill
Good time management allows you to accomplish more in a shorter period of time; which leads to more free time; which lets you take advantage of learning opportunities, lowers your stress, and helps you focus; which leads to more career success. Each benefit of time management improves another aspect of your life.
If you’re unable to plan your time efficiently, you’ll have problems with delivering results. But it doesn’t end here. Bad time-management may lead to work-life imbalance and ultimately transform into professional- and personal-life related issues. That’s why time management is one of the most important soft skills you need to excel in your career.
4. Organization Skill
Jordan Peterson, clinical psychology is known for advising people to clean their room as the first step to a meaningful life. His argument is that people who cannot do the simple task of cleaning their room and putting things in the proper place are not in the right position to make an important contribution to the larger society.
Whether you agree with this simplistic ideology or not, we can all agree that you need to be organized within your personal space to be able to function effectively in this fast-paced, ever-changing, and ever-demanding world. Organizational skills tie in nicely with time-management skills. But, it takes things a step further. It includes being self-motivated and focused, effective use of mental capacity, physical space, and resources, managing tasks and people, prioritizing and delegating. You need organization skills to function under pressure and deliver consistently on deadline. And it makes you a highly employable and versatile person.
New technologies, new kinds of competition, new business models—all these require you to think on your feet and have the courage to propose new, yet-to-be-tested solutions and to move away from old inefficient methods. This is why companies look for people who can quickly adjust and evolve towards the ever-shifting business landscape. It should not come as a surprise that adaptability ranks high among top employability skills.
One more thing. Adaptability also means your willingness to learn, unlearn and relearn. If you’re open-minded to learn, you can draw knowledge from past mistakes to invent new, more efficient ways of performing tasks. And this is exactly the attitude the market embraces. Set new challenges for yourself, start a new hobby, learn new skills and ask for new responsibilities at work to continue adapting your skills and experiences.
6. Collaboration skill
As many companies are blending remote work from home, and the freelance economy is increasingly expanding, collaboration skills have evolved beyond just being able to work face to face with people within your company. It now involves being able to efficiently work with a team virtually, within or outside your company. This is why the ability to collaborate and work in a team, is one of the highly sought-after soft skills today. Collaboration means being able to work with people of different backgrounds, ages, religions, and political options; recognizing each team member’s strengths and weaknesses to assign tasks accordingly; accepting accountability for the results and resolving conflicts within the team. You need patience, tolerance, and emotional intelligence to collaborate effectively with others.
7. Reliability and Dependability Skills
You are reliable and dependable when you do what you say you will do. It also means that you are able to look around and see what needs to be done and do them without being asked. People who are self-regulated and reliable take responsibility for their own actions and ensure that they live up to their values. They are ready to act on opportunities. These qualities are a prized possession in any profession.
8. Technology Usage Skill
You already know this. Technology pervades all aspects of our lives and will continue to do so. It doesn’t matter if you’re a data scientist, nurse, administrative assistant, carpenter, or an investment banker— to stay competitive you must keep abreast with technologies relevant to your profession. To get up to speed with your technology usage skills, read industry magazines online, learn from online tutorials on YouTube and take online classes.
9. Information Usage Skill
Information is the new currency today. However, there is an overload of information out there; with a mix of fake news, conspiracy theories, gossips, rumors and misinformation. In the midst of all these, sometimes a single piece of data can be a make or break factor for an entire organization. This makes the ability to use information an important soft skill in its own right.
Being able to use information has a very broad spectrum of meanings. It can refer to locating a single piece of essential data or making a data-driven pitch deck for investors. It’s pretty clear why businesses need people who can find the right information in any medium, organize it in a meaningful way, analyze it and draw conclusions, and then communicate it to others.
10. Personality traits
Like it or not there are certain character traits that make you more competitive than others. According to a study, Professionalism, Drive, Enthusiasm, Confidence, Creativity and Transparency are the top six character traits employers look for.
Why do companies pay attention to this? Well, your soft skills combined with the right character traits determine if you are a perfect cultural fit in a company or in an industry. Although it’s never a good idea to pretend to be who you’re not, you want to do your best to come across as enthusiastic, confident, and transparent in your work life.
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