two women at a cashier

What are soft skills and why are they important?

Have you ever heard people talking about soft skills and wondered what exactly they mean?

Soft skills are what you use to interact with people in a positive way. Other common terms for soft skills are people skills or interpersonal skills.

It’s estimated up to 85% of a person’s success is a result of how good their soft skills are. That makes it important that you know what they are and how to show you have them.

Soft skills equal success

Examples of soft skills

Some of the most common soft skills employers are looking for are:

  • communication
  • self-motivation
  • problem solving

Communication is more than talking. It means being able to adjust your style according to your audience. Good communicators listen closely. They understand information and can pass it on to other people accurately and clearly.

Self-motivation is sometimes called initiative. It means you are able to work without too much supervision. You can manage your own workload and understand how to set priorities to make sure you don’t fall behind.

Problem solving means you are able to look at a situation, analyse the important points and find a solution. An important part of problem solving is knowing if a solution already exists. If you have a flat tyre, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. You just need to know how to patch the hole.

dog with stick trying to work out how to cross a bridge

Are all skills equal?

Soft skills are essential if you want to work in a job where relationships are important. These might include jobs that involve:

  • Sales and customer service.
  • Managing other people.
  • Representing your company to the public.

In a lot of jobs you also have to back up soft skills with hard skills.

Hard skills are also called technical skills. Knowing how to balance a till or mix concrete is a hard skill. They’re often job-specific and learnt through study or work experience.

So, it’s not always a make or break situation if you don’t have the technical skills needed for a job, particularly with entry level or junior roles. An employer is just as likely to look at your personality and how they think you’ll fit in with other staff as they are your technical skills.

dog holding tail of another dog as it goes into a pool

In your application and interview, show the employer you are keen by demonstrating you’re a fast learner and are committed to being a great employee. This will help you overcome a lack of hard skills and get the job.

You can update your career profile and resume to include your soft skills and search for jobs now at the jobactive website.

Images: iStock, giphy

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