What are soft skills?
When we think of soft skills, certain terms or words come to mind such as: personal attributes, behaviours, feelings or reactions, people skills, transferable skills, service skills.
Recently, people have begun to consider soft skills as more important that hard skills. Soft skills are defined as “Personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people.”- Oxford Dictionaries
What’s the difference between soft skills and hard skills?
“By contrast, soft skills are less tangible and harder to quantify. Examples of hard skills include job skills like typing, writing, math, reading and the ability to use software programs; soft skills are personality-driven skills like etiquette, getting along with others, listening and engaging in small talk.”
As a general rule of thumb, many job seekers tend to emphasize their hard skills in a job interview. Job seekers and staff in the workplace need to keep in mind that when it comes to service delivery, interactions at work and achieving success, soft skills are usually looked upon as indicators of how a candidate or employee will impact the bottom line.
Lionel Laroche points out that it is very essential for job seekers, especially new immigrants, to understand the importance of soft skills in the Canadian workplace.
The Most Important Soft Skills
All soft skills are important, but when it comes to service delivery, the following skills top the list.
- Communication skills – this skill always comes out on top as it includes one’s ability to convey ideas and to listen. Body language and tone is included.
- Flexibility – how one can adapt and handle change
- Being a team-player – this is a skill where team players usually possess other very good and useful skills
- Resilience – the ability to pick up oneself and move forward when the going gets tough
- Self Confidence – when you are confident others will be confident in you
- Patience – it’s an important virtue especially when faced with difficult customers or co-workers
- Problem solving – knowing how to analyze a situation and come up with workable solutions.
When we look specifically at soft skills and what employers are looking for, the following article summarizes it best: Job hunters with ‘soft skills’ lead the pack, Derek Sankey, CANWEST News Service