The top 5 soft skills you need to supercharge your career
Technical skills are often seen as the priority for people looking to further their career, but with more than three quarters of employers valuing soft skills just as highly, Insights takes a look at how you can develop your skillset and improve your employabilityJermaine Haughton
Whether it is a lack of qualified engineers, plumbers or computer scientists, the technical skills shortage that threatens to halt the UK’s productivity and economic growth is never out of the news for long.
However, largely due to their difficulty to be defined and measured, soft skills are often undervalued, if not ignored altogether.
Particularly crucial for managers, softs skills often provide the basis for leaders to effectively give directions to people with a persuasive flair and influence their team to strategically pursue the organisation's goals and objectives.
A recent study by career website CareerBuilder found an overwhelming majority of companies say soft skills are just as important as hard skills. It was found that 77% believe that soft skills, which are associated with one’s personality (such as a positive attitude) are just as important as hard skills, which are learned to perform a specific job function (such as programming).
Nicki Cresswell, wellbeing co-ordinator at careers advice service CABA, said that managers must not overlook the important role their soft skills, such as communication and organisation, play in leading teams to business objectives and targets.
“The truth is, soft skills feed into all abilities and actually drives us more than you would think,” she said. “Wikipedia associate’s soft skills with a person's "EQ" (Emotional Intelligence Quotient) and the cluster of personality traits, social graces, communication, language, personal habits, interpersonal skills, managing people, leadership, etc. that characterise relationships with other people. Thus enabling you to succeed in your career, while developing and progressing in the workplace.
“It allows versatility in your skillset, such as enhancing communication and people management skills.”
There are many different type of soft skills, but according to Cresswell, five attributes standout as being of most valuable to managers who wish to take their career to the next level:
This is arguably the most important soft skill in almost any type of job. Without communication skills, you can’t manage a team or relay strategy back to your peers. If you have good communication skills, it means you can effectively express your ideas both verbally and in writing.
This formulates an understanding with your colleagues and clients, which should ultimately lead to increased responsibility and respect. Good communication skills also include being a good listener, as this helps you to understand what your employer, co-workers’ and clients’ need.
Women are traditionally better at using soft skills within the workplace, and are 45% more likely than men to be seen demonstrating empathy consistently. Empathy helps build relationships with clients and colleagues, and goes a long way towards building a strong team.
Employers are keen to work with people who can gather and analyse information, then apply logic and creativity to solve problems and make appropriate decisions without relying heavily on others.
So if you have this kind of skill, harness it and you should be in demand.
Being able to solve problems autonomously is also a skill employers value, as you can save time and add value by driving projects forward; by presenting solutions, rather than problems to senior colleagues.
Being able to adapt to change in the workplace is another sought-after skill. Adaptability and flexibility are key and will show you to be a reliable member of the team.
The world of work is changing at a faster rate than ever, and employers are actively looking for people who can keep up and not just adapt to new ideas and working environments, but embrace them.
Working well with others and having the confidence to contribute ideas in a group is a skill some people lack. Being positive and assertive, as well as taking your share of the responsibility and being open to constructive criticism (while at the same time being able to offer constructive criticism to others) can be difficult at times.
However, you need to consider how it helps the team overall. Without new or different ideas, creativity or innovation will never benefit the business.
When you organise and manage your time well, you can be more productive and efficient. It also means you’re good at juggling several different tasks and projects at the same time, and can set goals – and meet them.
This is essential, especially in today’s 24/7 world, and is definitely just as valuable as technical skills. Missed deadlines or missed opportunities are more costly than brushing up on your technical skills.
On the whole, businesses are realising the importance of soft skills in the workplace, and how they are unable to grow as a company without these types of personalities to help them develop. Soft skills can show you to be a well-rounded employee, and communicating well or having empathy for others will go a long way to driving your career even further forward.
Find out how CMI can help boost your skill set by visiting our qualifications page