Soft skills are personal attributes that describe an individual’s ability to interact with others. Soft skills, also known as people skills, complement hard skills to enhance an individual’s relationships, job performance and career prospects. It’s often said that hard skills will get you an interview but you need soft skills to get — and keep — the job. Unlike hard skills, which comprise of a person’s technical skill set and ability to perform certain functional tasks, soft skills are interpersonal and broadly applicable across job titles and industries.
Throughout your degree you’ll obviously gain a whole range of specialist and technical knowledge and experience that will be essential to your career. But your grades and knowledge may not always be the factors that get you over the line when it comes to job applications.
We’ve asked each of our affiliated employers what they would consider to be their most valued employability skills. Across over 150 organisations, the results are in:
- Communication Skills
Communication skills was absolutely the stand out winner! Keep in mind, this includes written and verbal skills. It’s understandable why this is so valuable in professional situations – consider its impact on rapport building, negotiation, conflict resolution, client relationships, presentation ability and workplace clarity.
- Team Work
Team work came in a very close second – collaboration is becoming increasingly important and the ability to work well in a diverse team is likely to make you more productive and in turn, valuable. People will quite naturally gravitate towards different roles in teams – ‘Leaders,’ ‘Monitors,’ ‘ Doers’ etc – understanding what your natural tendencies are can help you utilise your strengths and improve your weaknesses.
- Problem Solving
Problem solving will mean different things within different workplaces and industries. However, universally problem solving addresses your ability to identify and assess risks and make decisions to overcome obstacles. An individual’s ability to do this in an efficient, rational, innovative way is a huge asset!
- Initiative & Enterprise
Initiative and enterprise looks at your proactivity and ability to initiate work independently. These attributes usually go hand in hand with drive and motivation – employers are looking for people who identify opportunities to progress and improve work and take them!
- Planning & Organising
Planning and organising can sometimes be underrated… Regardless of what role, organisation or industry you’re in, your ability to prioritise and manage tasks and information is invaluable. Even if your planning and organisation skills don’t have a direct impact on a task, they will have a direct impact on how colleagues perceive your professionalism and accountability.
Developing these skills is important, and it’s something that you’re likely to work on your whole life – but equally important, is how you communicate these skills when you’re applying for jobs. Look at your experience and think about how you can join the dots – you’ll be surprised how often you’re using these skills without thinking about it.
Check out your favourite employer’s profile to see what they value specifically.