The economy has dealt a blow to countless people. Finding a new job or even moving to a different position within the same company can be hard but it is not impossible. Ensuring your skills are up to date is essential, but you may be ignoring the ones that put you ahead of the pack when it comes to getting hired and staying employed. Having hard skills, the technical knowledge needed to do a particular job, is important. But employers are seeking candidates with strong soft skills as well. These skills are often downplayed by employees and job seekers. However, they are incredibly valuable in the workplace. If you have a wealth of information but cannot communicate it clearly or interact with others to ensure your ideas are being implemented, you (and the people you work with) can become frustrated and a project or your career may stall. Soft skills consist of communication, interpersonal skills, and problem solving. Keep reading to get a few tips on making sure yours are up to par.
In business, the goal is to communicate effectively and efficiently. Ideally, written communication should be kept to 1 page and be organized so the reader can quickly understand the purpose and how to act. When typing an email or memo be sure to keep the following guidelines in mind:
- Keep sentences short.
- Avoid the temptation to use big, unnecessary words and technical jargon unless expressly needed or you are sure the recipient is familiar with the jargon.
- Organize sections (use bullet or headings, include one issue/topic per paragraph).
- Use active voice. (Example: Instead of saying “Careful consideration of the recommendations was given by the committee.” you should say, “The committee carefully considered the recommendations”.)
- Clearly communicate the purpose (“I am informing you…”, “I am making a case for…”, “Please consider assisting us…” etc).
- Use a tone that is warm and professional.
Teamwork is integral to most jobs. Every workplace has that one person everyone hates to work with. Don’t let that person be you! Try to keep these tips in mind when interacting with others in the workplace:
- Be professional at all times.
- Maintain a positive and flexible attitude.
- Be enthusiastic about your work and working with others.
- Treat others the way you would like to be treated.
- Be conscious of your body language. We communicate more with our bodies than with the words we say.
Problem Solving Skills
No matter what your profession is, there will come a time when a problem arises. Handling problems well and coming up with good solutions makes an employee a much more valuable part of the team. Make sure you are following each of these steps when approaching a problem:
- Identify the source of the problem
- Gather information and consider all sides
- Evaluate the options
- Implement the best option
- Review and revise, if needed
Hard and soft skills are required for career advancement. Keeping the tips above in mind can help you get and keep the job of your dreams!