Studies show that the right soft skills guarantee 75% of a long-term success on the job. Similarly, an overwhelming 77% of employers believe that soft skills are just as important as hard skills, and are undoubtedly harder to train. No wonder they are increasingly in demand by employers, but actually what are they?
Unlike hard skills, which represent technical knowledge, soft skills are human skills and behavioural knowledge, and represent your social skills on an emotional and human level. If you show these kind of skills, employers will be able to anticipate your ability to work in a team, you will integrate well into society and be able to develop successfully in your work.
Nowadays, it is your savoir-vivre and "passive" skills that can make the difference. In this digital age, changes are occurring every year or even every month, and a worker who knows how to adapt to change will be very valuable to an employer.
What are the essential soft skills?
- Collaboration, teamwork
- A sense of humour
- Ability to adapt
Rest assured that a company will not expect you to have all of these soft skills, but they will be sensitive to the fact that you can demonstrate these values through concrete examples and experiences. A worker with high emotional intelligence will generally be a very good communicator and will be able to clearly express objectives while working in a team.
How to enhance your soft skills?
To enhance your soft skills, you need to know what your strengths are. Why not ask your family and friends to help you identify your soft skills? The Briggs-Myers personality test can also help you determine what your natural soft skills are.
You can also take a look at your career path by reviewing your studies, activities and hobbies, your professional background....
- What exactly did you do?
- How did you manage to carry out and succeed in your projects?
- What talents and qualities did you have to demonstrate or develop to achieve your objectives?
Transparency is key: be authentic by showing your strengths and talents. Also be specific and give examples of situations that can demonstrate your soft skills. The clearer and more coherently you speak, the more convincing you will be.
Mention your skills on your CV and in your pitch
Feel free to mention some of your soft skills in your CV as well as in your pitch. Highlight the concrete and measurable by referring to figures wherever possible; for example, mention the number of projects you have been involved in and your impact on them.
In addition, don't hesitate to talk about your communication style and explain how you like to manage/work in a team or how you evolve in a team. Again, demonstrate this with concrete examples. Don't hide - be honest and transparent, as these qualities are always appreciated and respected.
Here is more information on how to prepare your personal branding !
1. Hard skills are different to soft skills, but just as important
Hard skills are your knowledge-based skills while soft skills are your life skills, personal and social skills, linked to how you work and interact with others; in short, it’s about your emotional intelligence.
2. Make a list of your soft skills
Soft skills refer to your specific qualities that define your personality. They could include good manners, optimism, humour, creativity, adaptability, stress resistance, autonomy and initiative, sense of responsibility, patience, reliability... All of these shape your character and highlight the way you interact and work with others.
3. Stand out from the crowd with soft skills
The majority of what is taught at school is hard skills, that is concrete knowledge of subjects to prepare students for further studies and ultimately success in whatever career they choose. However, schools are yet to evolve significantly regarding soft skills. Very few schools teach soft skills even though they are becoming crucial nowadays. Soft skills are what can make the difference in a job interview and help you to stand out. If an employer is choosing between two candidates with similar academic or professional profiles, it is their soft skills (or lack of) that will influence the employer’s decision, as they will always choose the profile that presents interesting human qualities for the company.
4. Focus on your natural talents
Identify your strengths and focus on them. No one is perfect and possesses all the qualities mentioned above, so it is important to be honest and focus on the strengths you do have. Ask your family and friends to list the talents and qualities they recognise in you and go from there. Take stock of your academic and professional background. Ask yourself what qualities you are spontaneously recognised as having; the qualities people often compliment you for.
5. Go back to childhood
If you are shy or struggle to see what you have to offer, look back to your childhood. Beyond your professional and academic background, look for your talents in the activities you liked to do, the hobbies you enjoyed and the activities in which you excelled, and try to rediscover these. Dig into your past and your interactions with others to find your strengths.
6. Stay humble
If you are confident and have no problem putting yourself forward, remember to try to appear humble in the way you present yourself. Focus on the essentials and choose three or four qualities to highlight why you are the right person for the job. Employers will appreciate that you have made the effort to give answers which are relevant to the position for which you are applying. On the other hand, they won't like it if you show off your prowess just for the sake of it.
7. Experience is key
If you feel you have no experience, whether professional, voluntary, academic or otherwise, stop and ask yourself why! To enrich your CV and uncover your strengths and talents and what you’re really looking for in a job, you simply need to take the plunge. If you can't find an internship or job, offer your help to an agency or on a voluntary basis. All experience is good experience!
8. Integrate your soft skills into your CV or pitch
It is important to highlight your soft skills on your CV - they are just as important as your professional experience. However, don’t just throw them in randomly; the soft skills you choose to promote must be consistent with your CV and relevant to the position for which you are applying.
9. Back it up with examples
Soft skills are vital, and your ability to illustrate them with concrete examples of your experience is just as important. This will not only show that you do have experience, but also that you are able to learn from it.
- “Soft skills” have recently appeared on the labour market and they are increasingly in demand by employers.
- Soft skills define you and highlight how you interact with others and within a team.
- Soft skills are a real added value that make the difference and increase your chances of differentiating yourself from other candidates.