At Avodah Consultants we specialise in soft skills training and every time I mention that I am a Management Consultant specialising in soft skills training I get asked the question; what exactly are soft skills? Well, hard skills are specific abilities and usually related to professional knowledge, tools, or techniques. For example, the ability to use software programs, analyze data, operate specific machinery, or being a certified professional in any field can be considered hard skills.
Soft skills aren’t as easy to define. Soft skills include things such as: business etiquette, time management, customer service, emotional intelligence communication skills, creativity, leadership, adaptability, attitude, etc. Particularly when technical skills are equal, it’s the soft skills that make one person stand out over another.
It has now become apparent that employees need to be more than their job description. The bottom line is this: You probably won’t get an interview without the required hard skills, but it’s the soft skills that will get you the job and, eventually, the promotions.
And advanced proficiency in soft skills can really accelerate your career!
Skill #1: Prioritize Accurately
The ability to prioritize is usually ranked as most important. An average person might prioritize their projects based the order they were given – first in, first out. Or they’ll skip from project to project, depending on which project bosses scream the loudest.
However, you will enjoy more career success if you’re able to look at your projects and know which are most important as you are moving through them. This requires understanding how each project maps to the company’s goals. It requires having a good grasp of the business you’re in. It requires the ability to ask the right questions and offer solutions. It requires the ability to manage your manager’s expectations.
Skill #2: Communicate Effectively
I’m sure you can guess my answer to what soft skill is most important! For me, in-person communication still matters most. An average person doesn’t think about how his message will be received on the other end. They’ll text or email because it’s faster and more comfortable. They will prepare a presentation at the last minute because they don’t understand its importance.
You will definitely experience more career success if you understand when a face-to-face is needed and how to prepare for in-person communication. For example, if you work from home, do you make regular visits to the main office? Do you know how to communicate with members of different generations? A text might be most effective to communicate with an intern, while a conversation might be better for an engineering manager.
Skill #3: Demonstrate Social Savvy
Although the first two skills on this list might be predictable, this next one may not be: social savviness (that’s social media savviness). To be clear, knowing how to post on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are hard skills that nearly everyone entering the job market knows, however, it’s the social savvy that’s important.
For example, do you understand how to manage your online reputation? Do you know how to separate your personal persona from work? Do you know how to use Twitter to start and engage in professional conversations? Do you know how to creatively use social media to engage prospects and customers online?
The list goes on and next week we explore more on how to get you ahead of the pack.