Do You Keep Getting Passed Over for Jobs?
Are you taking yourself out of the running for a position even before you start? You have all the skills the job posting says you need, the qualifications, and good experience. You are feeling confident. But not so fast!
Your ‘soft skills’ can make or break your ability to get to the top of the candidate list, or even on the list in the first place. If you want to be a key competitor, you need to understand what soft skills are, why you need them, and how to get them.
Each day you are using your soft skills whether you realize it or not. Soft skills are your behavioural and interpersonal strengths such as your attitude, ability to adapt and be flexible. And it’s your soft skills recruitment officers are looking for on your resume and in the interview. Will you make a great employee who can not only do the job but have the traits needed for the position and company culture?
By comparison, hard skills are your educational, analytical, technical, and even your language skills. In other words, your job-specific abilities, knowledge, and hands-on experience.
Get on the interview list with these key steps:
- Visit the company’s website and do your research.
Understand what the company does so you are knowledgeable and note how they describe their culture. This will help you determine if you would fit in and be happy working there.
- Review the job posting and position description carefully.
Other than the hard skills, what else are they looking for? For example, will you be working in teams? Will the pace be fast-moving? Will you be in charge of others? Will you be dealing with customers?
- Note your qualifications and the relevant soft skills.
In addition to your abilities, focus on the soft skills they outline. If you have additional personality strengths, they can be noted when you get an interview. Reviewing resumes is time-consuming for recruiters so stick to the specifics to get to the top of the pile.
Example: A company sells products and is looking for a customer service representative. Here are some soft skills that will be important in the position:
• Customer-service oriented to keep the customers happy
• Active listening skills to understand goals and client requirements
• Problem-solving abilities
Example: The position is for a divisional team leader within a fast-paced environment. Additional soft skills will be needed here.
• Ability to lead others in a positive, inspirational, and collaborative way
• Can set and meet goals
• Adaptable and flexible to deal with ever-changing situations
Example: A junior accountant will work with others in the finance department while working remotely. In this situation, here are some important soft skills.
• Reliable and trusted to get the job done
• Time management skills to meet financial deadlines
- Don’t forget your transferable skills
You may not have everything the position requests, but recruiters will also be looking at your transferrable skills. Transferable skills may be ‘hard’ such as your computer or bookkeeping skills, and ‘soft’ such as your excellent communication and strong leadership abilities.
Although you have never been in the same role as the open position, your transferable skills can help you land the job.
- It’s time to apply!
In your resume, complement your cover letter by showing off your soft skills (with examples) that are important in the position.
In pre-screening interviews, be prepared to say why you will perform well in the position with your abilities and soft skills.
With all these tools, you will be a top contender!
- How to improve your soft skills
Speak to be clearly understood: Be specific, stay on topic, and focused. Pay attention, make eye contact, and show interest in what the other person is saying. Practice with a family member or friend.
Develop your writing skills: Research affordable community writing programs to strengthen your skills, and practice at every opportunity. Always review your grammar and punctuation so your writing skills shine through. Sloppy work can indicate someone who is not detailed.
Be an active listener: Listening attentively enables you to understand what others are feeling and enables you to be on the lookout for any possible conflicts. It also ensures you clearly understand what has to be accomplished in your role. And when you don’t interrupt, you show respect.
Manage your time: Not being on time or meeting deadlines is a career buster. Focus on staying organized and adhere to a schedule. Don’t waste the time of others. Be responsible and reliable.
Show leadership strengths: Offer ideas on improving processes and ask to lead the change initiative. Speak to your supervisor about mentorship opportunities. Helping someone with less experience will strengthen your leadership abilities. Request leadership workshop training to enhance your skills.
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