Soft skills are the most important competencies you will need in your career. They are difficult to measure but are essential to every professional. Because of that, people are confused with what they are. It makes sense because they are constantly bombarded with buzzwords like ‘transferable’ and ‘employability skills’ and sometimes it can be hard to distinguish the differences between them.
But just to clear things up, all of these words describe the same abilities. Different words are used because they are often used in a different context. ‘Transferable skills’ are the abilities that can be applied to any work environment.
The term ‘employability skills’ is just another term for ‘soft’ and ‘transferable skills’ though they serve a purpose and that is ‘to get, keep and be successful in a job’.
Employability skills help to make you more employable and can also refer to your ability to market yourself effectively.
All three of these types are essential abilities that everyone has and makes use of every day. They describe relationships with other people and describe how you approach life and work.
The soft skills categorised under the thinking skills include;
Analysing and investigating
This is the ability to gather and evaluate information systematically so that you can establish certain facts and principles. It’s a process of identifying the key elements, strengths and weaknesses of a situation or a problem, and then coming up with the most effective and practical solutions. It uses research skills as well as analytical and logic reasoning.
Planning and Organising
Planning ahead and organising your workload is what every responsible individual does. But this can also work on a personal level. Being organised isn’t only a matter of producing good work, but also following a plan that can help you achieve your short and long-term goals. This is all about having a clear direction of how you want things to work out.
Flexibility is what drives change and development. It is the ability to adapt to changing circumstances, taking on new challenges at short notice and dealing with changing priorities and goals. It often requires that you modify the direction of your work and your plans to adjust to new and unfamiliar work environments. The world of work is constantly changing, and you should be willing to work by the rules.
Negotiating and Persuading
The ability to influence and convince others is often related to professions in industries such as marketing, business and law but they are also transferable skills that can be used in any job. They are essential for when you are giving a presentation, promoting/selling something, discussing ideas and trying to reach an agreement.
Time management is a skill that everyone talks about, and it’s extremely important in terms of maintaining performance. It’s a skill that helps you balance the demands of daily life – study, work, family, leisure and free time – and increases the chances of success in various areas of your life. Properly balancing work and play time is the difference between a successful professional and a mediocre one.
The ability to use online databases, spreadsheets, the Internet, social media and email is essential. Employers are investing in the ICT skills of the young workforce. Anything that they can’t do that involves working with computers they expect young people to be able to do. Technology is constantly evolving, and those who know a lot about computers have an advantage over others in the job market and workplace.
Lifelong learning is continuous learning to develop the competencies needed for current and future roles. It is often translated as a ‘willingness to learn’, to develop yourself either personally and professionally. For some, ‘lifelong learning’ means never settling with what have at the moment, and always looking for new ways to improve. People who believe in lifelong learning are more likely to take risks.
The modern workplace is often fast-paced, loud and competitive. You need to maintain high levels of mental strength and be able to perform effectively under pressure.
Integrity is one of the most important values that professionals need to adhere to in the workplace. You need to be honest and ensure that you are following the standards and procedures set by your employer, maintain confidentiality whenever asked, and question inappropriate behaviour.
It’s not enough to be able to work as part of a team; you also need to be able to work on your own. Many job adverts highlight the importance of independence and often ask for jobseekers to be able to ‘work effectively on their own’.
Striving for excellence and paying attention to every detail of your job is essential to success. It’s not enough to simply ‘do your job’. You have to be willing to progress in your job, take on more responsibilities and help others in any way possible. Developing professionalism is all about empowering others and viewing the success of the business as your own.
Action planning is the ability to come up with an effective plan that can help you achieve the goal at hand. It involves figuring out what you want to do, the next steps you need to take and developing some strategies to get there. Making plans and sticking to them requires putting some priorities either in your daily schedule or the way you work so that you stay focused and productive.
Your actions are the results of the decisions you make, and effective decisions can lead you to success. Decision making is your ability to analyse facts or data and then figure out what the best course of action is either for you or the organisation you work for.
Creativity is at the centre of change and innovation. It’s desirable to any employer because it’s the ability to generate and apply original ideas and practical solutions to problems. Professionals who are creative can think outside of the box, analyse abstract ideas and use their inventiveness and imagination to produce meaningful results.
Personal Qualities as Soft Skills
Many career experts believe that soft skills are more important than having a good CV; they value personal qualities such as punctuality, flexibility, and cooperativeness more than anything else. So, even though you may hold a bunch of degrees and qualifications, as an entry level professional, this won’t make you more employable unless you show evidence of certain personal qualities that are needed in the workplace.
These qualities are;
Nobody likes a lazy employee, and people who have a genuine interest in their work are the ones who get the most out of it. Being driven and self-motivated means having an excitement for the industry you are in and the job you are doing. It also translates to having a strong work ethic, and every employer wants to see more of that.
Initiative is one of the most important soft skills The ability to act on your own initiative is crucial in the workplace. It shows that you can take the lead, identify opportunities, suggest interesting ideas and practical solutions. It also means speaking up, sharing your ideas, always prepared and asking a lot of questions.
The ability to recognise your strengths and weaknesses is one of the biggest tricks of successful people. Being aware of your achievements, abilities and values helps you evaluate the good and the bad and then come up with ways to improve yourself. It also helps you find out what you want out of life; how you are most likely to react to different work environments; and in situations where there is a conflict between you and other people.
If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will. Having the confidence to admit to your mistakes, stand up for yourself and prove to your employer that you can handle any assignment that is given to you is crucial. Having self-confidence helps to present a strong, professional and positive image to others – your interviewer, boss and colleagues alike; it generates respect, trust and support.
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Culled from: Careeraddict.