As you are probably already aware, each job requires its own specialised set of skills – working in the computing industry does not require the same technical knowledge as working in the catering industry, and those talents don’t apply to construction. Becoming a professional in a particular field relies on honing skills that apply specifically to that job – in many instances, this can take a lifetime. The question then is, “how do I get myself to a position where I can begin to specialise”, and that would be the right question to ask. After all, everyone has to start somewhere.
Soft skills. You may have heard this term before, or it might be your first time, either way, we’re going to help explain everything you need to know.
Put simply, soft skills are non-technical abilities that relate to your job. In other words, they are skills that are required for every single job. You may have encountered the term ‘interpersonal skill’ before, and this is essentially the same thing, however interpersonal skills are exclusively in reference to other people.
In fact, if you’ve been following our blog for a while, you’re sure to have encountered a handful of soft skills without even realising it! We’ve covered topics such as time management, motivation and communication, all of which classify as soft skills – so let’s dive a little deeper, and break down what you need to know about improving your employability with these ubiquitous skills!
Types of Soft Skills
As we explained earlier, soft skills are essentially all of the personality traits and abilities you possess that help you work well in a work environment and with others. These skills can be broken down into more specific categories:
- Critical Thinking
If you find yourself thinking, “those are some awfully broad categories”, you would be right (also, big checkmark for critical thinking) – this is one of the most important aspects of soft skills. There is no hard and fast definition for any of these skills. They encompass much more than what can be learnt on a job, and often these skills are learnt outside the workplace!
Let’s start working through some of the sub-skill that are required in each of these categories, so we can craft a general idea in our minds of what we should expect and how we can go about improving our soft skills.
We tackled this in a lot more detail in one of our blogs a few months ago, so go check that out for more in-depth information. However, with a topic as big as this one it’s always worth covering.
Communication is an all-encompassing skill for everything interpersonal, and it extends far beyond simply the act of talking. There are so many forms of communication that we take for granted in our day-to-day lives. Non-verbal communications can include body language, to the written word. The written word can include anything from a report to an e-mail to a text message.
One big factor that we often seem to forget is that at least half of our communication is listening, both passively and actively. It’s a complicated idea, but when learning these skills, they are much easier to implement than you would think.
We haven’t delved into these sets of skills as deeply as we have with others on this list, so expect a more in-depth investigation into critical thinking soon.
For now, let’s look at what critical thinking entails – for a nice over-simplification, we’ll start by saying that critical thinking is all the skills that you will have to use to make sure you are analysing situations in order to make proper judgements and informed decisions.
Put simply, it is your business common sense. There are many elements that come into critical thinking, and not all of them can be simply categorised. Critical thinking, like many soft skills, is interdisciplinary, meaning that other styles of skills like communication or work ethic are required to fully make sense of a situation.
Creativity, adaptability, resourcefulness and a desire to learn are all considered types of critical thinking.
We’ve decided to combine these two skills together – while not every position requires leadership qualities, every good leader should be able to operate successfully within a team environment.
Leadership skills are fundamentally the skills you need in order to take charge – in a difficult situation, often it is advantageous to have one person take the reigns, and also accept the accountability that comes with that.
At the same time, no one likes a tyrant. By simultaneously practising teamwork skills (and employing other soft skills), you can make sure you can make the most of any situation.
When thinking about teamwork and leadership skills, we are thinking about: conflict management/resolution, feedback, management, motivation, collaboration, empathy and networking, just to name a few.
This set of soft skills is a little more intuitive than the rest. Our attitude, more specifically our positive attitude, is something that we should all be cultivating both inside and outside our work environments.
Both coworkers and those above us want to feel comfortable, and by adjusting our attitudes accordingly, we are able to cultivate a feeling of trust and improve the pleasurability of our workspace, especially in stressful situations.
We’re talking about, confidence, courtesy, enthusiasm, honesty, etcetera.
We’ve focused on work ethic more than anything else previously, if you recall our self-motivation or time management guides (if not, definitely check them out) you’re sure to understand what we mean.
A good work ethic is pretty much invaluable to an employer – no one expects anyone to be perfect, or at least any good employer will understand that, but a worker with the willingness to improve and learn will go a long way.
These skills are mainly built around the formal aspects of business, for example, punctuality, scheduling, focusing on tasks, planning skills and so on.
We’ve reached our time!
Unfortunately, we’ve packed in as much about soft skills as we possibly can today – however, this is far from the end. Hopefully, you’ve been able to tell that these skills are invaluable, and by working on them consistently and efficiently, you’re sure to see results sooner than you think!
Speaking of results, maybe it’s time to take the first step up the employment ladder, and apply for a new opportunity that supports you! Why not upload your C.V here, take a look at our jobs boards and fill in our registration form to start finding the right fit for you!
And as always,