WES Advisor Blog

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Mastering Soft Skills in the Workplace

Thursday | September 28, 2017 | by Justine D’Souza

Professional using a computer and talking on a headset.

Soft skills may not be quantifiable, but they can affect both the interview process and future job performance. When marketing yourself and considering how you fit into an advertised role, it’s natural to focus on technical capacities listed in a job description. Although those are certainly important, applicants often overlook soft skills.

Interviewers and managers may not directly ask about these skills, but they will certainly look out for them both during your interview process and your tenure in a company, should you get hired.

Demonstrating your skills in these areas can help in the application process. When you practice interview responses and engage in your current job, structure answers with these skills in mind and find opportunities to hone them further.

Although important soft skills vary by field, here are some that remain relevant across all professions:

  • Communication: This is arguably the most important soft skill as it requires effectively stating a point and expressing ideas to both internal and external stakeholders. Employers look for candidates who can communicate effectively. People in all fields must regularly exercise this skill, either via virtual or direct contact, as well as in both written and verbal communications.
    Related article: How Literacy Levels Can Impact Your Career
  • Organization: Most jobs require simultaneously managing multiple projects and/or responsibilities with varied levels of urgency and time constraints. Employees must keep track of different tasks and complete them in a timely manner, so this is a soft skill that people can apply across all job fields.
  • Resourcefulness: In the age of innovation, people make themselves valuable by solving problems and finding ways to teach themselves how to learn new skills. Supervisors may not always have time to guide their team members, so the employees who can appropriately self-start, resolve issues, and work independently stand out.
  • Teamwork: Every job requires some level of collaboration, and employers seek employees who will work harmoniously and effectively with both peers and superiors, completing assignments despite possible conflict in ideas and personalities.
  • Adaptability: In a rapidly changing world, individual offices often have to modify their policies and practices in efforts to keep up with industry changes or experiment with their own workplace functioning. Organizations need employees who can adjust to workplace changes on a larger and smaller scale.
  • Interpersonal knowledge: Understanding people and how to meet their needs remains important, even if a position predominantly requires independent work. Any employee will have to interact with their company’s Human Resources, Administrative Information Technology, Senior Staff employees, and/or customers, so employers seek candidates who can work successfully with others.
  • Intrapersonal knowledge: A common interview question is, “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” because employers want to see how candidates self-assess and manage both their shortcomings and their skills to become the most effective workers possible. Knowing yourself is important to maximize potential by discerning how you should accept assignments, budget time, pursue opportunities, and ask for help.

Are there other soft skills that you feel are important to note during an interview? Share your thoughts with us in the Comments section below.

Justine D'Souza

Justine D’Souza is a Credential Analyst for the Evaluations Department at World Education Services.