Updated 8 Feb 2022
If you’re a very talented computer scientist or an expert marketing executive or whatever, it doesn’t amount to anything if you don’t have the necessary soft skills to excel in a work environment. These characteristics are called soft skills and can be more important to your career success than you may think.
Soft skills are so respected in the workplace because they help stimulate human connections and ensure everyone works together as efficiently as possible. Recruiters do look out for this during the hiring process and select candidates with high teamwork, collaboration, problem-solving, and critical thinking abilities.
But not everyone has these skills. Not everyone is an expert communicator or a problem solver, so it’s important to understand how to develop these soft skills. Below, we discuss the top 10 most important skills for career success and how to develop them.
In the workplace, things don’t always go as planned. To be successful, you need to know how to be flexible to adjust to changing projects and practices. So instead of digging your heels in, be open to change and know how to quickly pivot.
Change is, obviously, a certainty in business, and acquiring employees who are open to it and are able to adapt quickly is important to the success of the business. Moreover, workers that can adapt to industry shifts as well are incredibly valuable.
To be more adaptable, force yourself to be an early adopter of change and stand out as someone who relishes new challenges. Ask about new training sessions, be open to learning about the reasons for changes, and offer to teach your colleagues what you learn.
Written and verbal communication skills are both incredibly important in any workplace where you are collaborating with colleagues or clients. They also enhance your ability to build relationships with coworkers and your superiors. Knowing how to communicate clearly and effectively will improve your productivity and contribute to an efficient and enjoyable team environment.
While not all of us can communicate optimally right now, ways to sharpen your communication skills include making more detailed notes, listening more, thinking clearly before speaking, and altering your communication practices depending on who you’re talking to.
When something goes wrong, as it often does in the workplace, there are two options, you can either complain or take action. It’s the latter that will put you in the good books of your boss as you knock down all the surprising challenges that present themselves one by one. Knowing how to think quickly and solve problems with creative solutions will make you indispensable to an employer.
While many of us aren’t good at solving puzzles, solving problems is an entirely different thing and one we are all capable of. A good tip is to never bring your manager a problem without also bringing a solution. When a problem presents itself, think through how you’re going to address it and what are the best ways to get around it that have the best outcome.
A business’s success rarely depends on one person doing something all by themselves. Success is the result of multiple people working together in harmony toward a shared goal. When workers know how to connect and utilize their various talents, everyone wins.
Employers select team players because they help build a friendly culture, which helps retain workers and attract the best talent. Similarly, being able to collaborate well with your team boosts overall productivity and the quality of work.
To improve your teamwork ability, pay attention to your colleagues and lend a hand when you see they are struggling. Get to know their strengths and weaknesses, and consider this when working on projects or delegating tasks.
Developing leadership skills is something that takes time and a lot of practice and gradual progress. Having confidence, a clear vision, and the ability to help positively influence your colleagues to back your ideas is the sign of a good leader. Displaying such leadership skills, even when not acting as a ’leader’ will help you gain visibility in the company, leading to opportunities for promotions and salary increases.
Bosses are always looking for workers with leadership potential because it is always better to hire from within when looking for someone to take over the reins to continue building on the company’s legacy.
Being a good leader isn’t just about getting your colleagues to do what you want. Leadership is all about inspiring people to work towards a shared goal and helping them reach their full potential. There are many ways to enhance leadership skills in businesses. One way is to become an internship supervisor, which presents the opportunity to manage people, learn how to motivate them, and acquire more responsibility.
Data doesn’t mean too much if you have no idea how to interpret it. Are there patterns emerging? What should you be looking for? Critically observing information and providing helpful insights from this will make you a very valuable employee.
You will have probably heard of critical thinking; that’s because it is a highly desirable soft skill for employers. Workers who bring a fresh perspective and deliver intuitive solutions to help the company compete in their industry or improve internal processes are hot property.
While we aren’t all analytical, to be a critical observer, you have to be able to analyze information and put the resulting knowledge to use. One helpful tip is to try to identify patterns at work. For example, does your manager actually read the weekly marketing reports? Or maybe they overlooked some key information or a pattern that wasn’t obvious. By looking at the details and easily missed patterns, you can become very valuable within an organization.
In any business, there will be some form of conflict. Therefore, being able to resolve problems between co-workers will help maintain productivity, relationships with peers, and the general workplace culture and atmosphere.
Being able to constructively and effectively solve disagreements is a certain indicator of maturity and leadership potential. Workers like this help to promote a healthy, enjoyable, and collaborative workplace.
Tackling problems head-on is the best way to improve this soft skill. The best way to resolve disputes between colleagues is to address issues straight away, directly but delicately. So, when acting as a mediator, let both parties voice their grievances and then work together to find an appropriate solution that is accepted by all parties.
This soft skill includes the ability to keep your physical and digital spaces clean as well as the capacity to effectively plan, schedule, and prioritize. Good organization can help you save time, produce better work, prevent miscommunications and improve efficiency. Many people aren’t naturally organized, however. In this case, it’s a good idea to start trying to plan your day with a calendar, keep track of deadlines and take lots of notes so as to not forget anything.
This is a crucially important skill when it comes to the workplace. It includes working hard, primarily, but also responsibility, reliability, quality, perseverance, and discipline. People with a good work ethic are the most productive and tend to have a positive attitude to work. This isn’t really something that can be developed but is heavily influenced by the work that you’re doing. If you are in a line of work that you really enjoy, your work ethic will improve as you are excited to learn and progress.
Creativity may not be at the top of the list for employers, but having strong creativity will help with many of the other soft skills, including problem-solving and conflict resolution. Your job will most likely require you to think of ideas to improve products and processes, or to help colleagues find innovative solutions to work-related problems. Coming up with creative solutions to fulfill a certain business need or creating innovative processes that help the company move forward will help cement you as a creative genius within your organization.
Mastering these fundamental skills can lead to promotions, salary raises, and more job offers if you’re currently searching for a job. The majority of employers will ask specific questions to identify if candidates possess these desirable, transferable skills. Some of these you will naturally have, but some you will need to improve. Make the most of your workplace by seeking further development opportunities. Perhaps you could take on more responsibility, lead on a project, or task yourself with solving a complex problem. These essential skills can lead you to a very successful career if properly honed.
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