If you want to be the best in your field, there are certain practical abilities and skills (hard skills) that you’ll need to master. This is why people usually focus on improving these more tangible skills while not giving much consideration to the soft skills required for success.
Hard skills are teachable and measurable abilities, such as reading and writing or your proficiency at specific computer programs. Some jobs are more technical than others, however becoming expert and successful in your field will require you to have highly developed and job-related hard skills.
The soft skills required for success are less tangible, these attributes are to do with your personal qualities and character. Soft skills include your emotional intelligence, resilience and leadership skills. These are five of the top soft skills needed for success in any industry. These are the attributes that we know employers value.
1. Resilience and Adaptability
Many of us have been challenged and concerned by world events over the past few years. We often can’t control situations, but we can control our responses to them. Holocaust survivor, author, neurologist, psychiatrist and philosopher, Victor Frankl said, “when we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” If you’re an employee who is adaptable and resilient through times of significant change as well as smaller upheavals, you are a valuable asset.
It’s surprising how many people need to work on some (or all) components of their communication skills. Whether it’s your ability to speak clearly and concisely, or your listening skills, you should always strive to improve and be the best communicator you can. This includes consideration of non-verbal communication skills such as body language. Think about how you present yourself to others.
3. Work ethic
Excelling in this skill doesn’t mean you have to be the person clocking the most hours every week. It’s as much to do with time management and working smarter, not necessarily longer hours. Strive to be an employee that employers can trust to get the job done within the time required.
Employers tend to hire staff who are skilled at managing other employees. Even if you don’t have any direct reports in your role, this skill still applies to you. Leadership skills extend to taking ownership of a situation and being able to work autonomously. For example, if your boss is away and unreachable for a couple of days and an urgent matter comes up, those with leadership skills will be better able to handle the situation on their own.
Last but not least is empathy. Previously considered by many to be a soft skill that was not necessary for business success, this has now recognised as an essential skill especially for leaders. The ability to recognise the emotions of others and share their perspective not only makes us better people but better at our jobs too. This Forbes article Empathy Is The Most Important Leadership Skill According To Research illustrates how and why this is the case.
If you want to get ahead in your career then build and develop your soft skills as well as the more obvious hard skills. By taking initiative above and beyond what most people do, you’ll set yourself apart in the eyes of your employer and/or prospective employers.