Soft skills for success

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In the professional world we come across terms like hard skills and soft skills. What is the difference? Are they necessary to succeed in the professional world?

Hard skills are easy to quantify, specific, teachable abilities that are acquired through formal education, training courses, and experience on the job. It is your knowledge and expertise in a particular field that makes you employable. Those are the skills that employers and recruiters require you to have to be even considered for a position. If you ever looked for a job in your profession you know exactly what they are because they are on your resume. Hard skills can be learned and perfected over time, tested at a job interview.

Examples of hard skills: 
  • Proficiency in a foreign language

  • Computer programming

  • Web design

  • Data analysis

Soft skills is a term referring to the more intangible and non-technical abilities a professional is expected to bring to the workplace. Soft skills have more to do with who you are and how you are perceived by others, they are more difficult to acquire and change, because they are ingrained into you. Some soft skills are your personality traits and some are habits. If for example you are always late you are seen as unreliable and disrespectful, but like any habit with hard work and discipline you can change it over time by putting new routines into place. That same principle applies to your personality traits. I am not saying change who you are, but wouldn’t you rather be the problem solver, that person that everyone goes to for advice instead of being someone who complaints all the time about everything.

Here is a list of soft skill that will improve not only your professional career but life in general:

  1. Communication – how you communicate your thoughts is paramount.

  2. Courtesy – your manners and your business etiquette matter.  Always say please and thank you.

  3. Flexibility/adaptability -  it simply means to be open to change, be willing to learn new things and educate yourself, adapt to new circumstances when they arise.

  4. Integrity – it is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.

  5. Interpersonal skills – refers to the ability to get along with others. Positive attitude and energy are very important – who does not like to be around optimistic, enthusiastic, encouraging, happy, confident people?

  6. Dependability – keeping promises and being consistent in good performance.

  7. Teamwork and collaboration – the willingness to cooperate in a team by using everyone's individual skills to accomplish a goal.

  8. Work ethic – comprises of many soft skills. It presents itself in your attendance, work approach, motivation,etc.

  9. Research skills - don’t limit yourself to the internet when you do your research. Explore as many sources as you can.

  10. Time and resources management - very useful skill since there are only so many hours in a day, and resources can be limited.