Everyone talks about these soft skills but what do they mean?

We’ve talked a lot about soft skills in general and how they can be applied to different types of jobs, but there are some terms that crop up a lot that are never actually explained.

Soft skills are personal attributes, those aspects of your personality that make you the best fit for certain activities. These are also sometimes referred to as your Emotional Intelligence or EQ (Emotional Intelligence Quotient) – as opposed to your IQ which refers directly to your innate logical intelligence and academic ability.

The following personal attributes can assist you when working with other people and complement your hard skills – the on-the-job experience and career training that you possess.

Attention to detail

It’s easy to say you pay attention to details but what does it mean and why is it important? Possessing attention to detail means that you read over all of your work and ensure that every small task is undertaken with the utmost care. When you are dealing with numbers a stray zero or comma can mean the difference between a healthy profit and extreme debt, the results could be catastrophic. And it isn’t just a worry when you’re dealing with money either, sending the wrong letter to a client could mean the end of a long-lasting partnership.

Personal Integrity

If you are dealing with people’s personal information or a company’s financial data, your employers need to know they can trust you. You need to be able to keep both business and client details confidential. But having personal integrity doesn’t just mean you do what the boss says. Sometimes, not doing what you are told is the ethical or legal thing to do. While there may be negative consequences, to begin with, future employers will respect you for making the right choices. Possessing personal integrity also means that you can be depended upon to always arrive on time and complete your work promptly.

Communication: Effective Reading, Writing, Listening, Speaking

In any position, regardless of your responsibilities, you will communicate in a lot of different ways and with a variety of people. You need to be able to understand what is being said, sometimes even if the person doesn’t know how to say it. Possessing communication skills means that you can not only say and write exactly what you mean in a way that is clear to the reader, you also know how to listen effectively so that you can meet the needs of your employer, your co-workers, and company clients.

Critical Thinking: Problem-Solving, Systems, Creative Thinking

So often jobs call for problem-solving skills, but it seems like such a vague concept. Anyone can see when things are going wrong, but it takes a special person to see solutions where others only see problems. To be a problem-solver, you need to think critically about situations and not jump to conclusions. It may be tempting to tell your new employer everything wrong with their systems. By working with existing procedures, rather than against them, you can often understand better why they are in place and see practical solutions from within the existing framework. Problem-solving means using the tools you have to solve the issues at hand.

Organization: Time Management, Multitasking, Information Ordering  

When you have multiple responsibilities you need to be able to manage your time and your tasks to ensure you get everything done. Time management means you are able to effectively manage competing demands on your time, deciding quickly who and what is most important. Contrary to popular belief, multitasking abilities doesn’t mean you can do multiple things at once. Instead, it refers to the knack of managing multiple tasks and projects at the same time, ensuring that all are complete in the appropriate timeframe. Information ordering is about how data is managed, stored and organized. People who have information ordering skills enjoy the challenge of designing, implementing and maintaining organizational systems, be they for confidential document filing, inventory management or stationery supplies. Being adept at organization means that you are able to locate vital information on demand.

Works well in a team

Be they boss, coworker or client, in any job you will need to work cooperatively with people who have different objectives and responsibilities to yourself. You also need to be able to share the glory and the failure of a major project and work together to come up with solutions that suit all parties. To possess teamwork skills, you need to be able to put your ego to one side and listen to the opinions and criticisms of others without taking offense.

Adaptable to change

All industries are facing rapid changes due to the digital revolution. Technology has already dramatically altered the way we live and work, and these alterations don’t look like they will slow down anytime soon. If you possess a personality that is adaptable to change you can cope with changes to the nature of the way you work and the systems that you use. If you are adaptable to change, you tend to see the positives rather than the negatives in a difficult situation. You are happy to give things a try and work towards solutions to issues from within the chosen framework.

What personality trait do you see employers asking for? If you need help figuring out how to apply your personal experience to a specific soft skill just drop us a question in our Facebook group, Career Spotlight with CCI Training.