Soft Skills – What Employers Really Want

A great deal of education is dedicated to the acquiring of skills. Whatever your major or current course of study, these skills are vital to doing well and obtaining the job of your dreams. These skills – such as computer programming – are referred to as hard skills.

There are other skills, however, known as soft skills, which are woefully under-represented in secondary school and college. These are the skills that turn good potential employees into stellar hires – or horrible ones. Soft skills are life skills, also often called people skills. Read on to know about the most important soft skills – the ones that will show future employers that you are their best hiring choice!

Body Language

The way you carry yourself says a lot about you. Even if a potential employer is not consciously checking out your body language, they will subconsciously pick up clues about you from the way you walk, talk and move your body. Thankfully, there are easy ways to adjust your body language such that you send out the right signals.

While the subject of body language can (and already has) filled volumes of books, understanding the basics is easy. Standing up straight and walking tall are great, simple ways to show an employer that you’re confident and sure of yourself. A firm handshake and sitting up straight in your chair convey the same. Look people in the eye when you’re talking too, but avoid staring – that’s just creepy.

Thinking On Your Feet

While many people understand the intricacies and policies of a particular job or field, they may not have a clue how to perform under pressure. In fact, many people become easily overwhelmed when even a small amount of job pressure is applied – forgetting simple skills and even breaking down. These are not the people an employer wants to hire!

Show potential employers that you’re cool under pressure by relating a story in which you performed well when the heat was on. Virtually every interview contains at least one opportunity to tell a story like this, so take advantage of it. Did you take control when your team lost a key member? Were you put in charge when a boss or manager was away from the office? These and other similar situations show that you can think on your feet, which is a huge soft skill that employers seek out.

Communication Skills

Perhaps the most sought-after soft skill involves communication. While communication comes naturally to some people, others find it truly difficult to effectively convey their thoughts, desires and feelings to others. That saying, displaying (and cultivating, if necessary) excellent communication skills will put you in a good light in any job interview.

If you have trouble with communication, it’s never too late to brush up on your skills. There are many quality books available on the subject, with insights and easy exercises that will morph you from nervous and tongue-tied to being a communications master.

Empathy is another communication skill that some people struggle with. It is the ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes and feel what they feel. This is key in any job, since virtually every job involves dealing with people in one way or another. Empathy allows you to communicate more effectively by truly understanding what the other person is feeling. This also leads to more efficient conflict resolution.

When planning a career or prepping for an interview, it’s important to remember that employers care beyond mere hard skills. Brush up on soft skills that can convey what a great employee you’ll be, and before you know it, those offers will come rolling in!

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