Entering the job market is intimidating enough to start with, but today’s newcomers to the world of work are coming up against some difficult factors that make things even more competitive.
Graduate numbers are going up every year, but there are far fewer jobs to apply for. Now that employers are faced with so many applicants to choose from, anything that gives you an edge or makes you stand out is invaluable.
To be in with a chance, you want something that will immediately catch a prospective employer’s eye while they’re sifting through piles of identical CVs. For many companies, this will be some solid evidence of soft skills.
Hard Versus Soft Skills
Soft skills are qualities like good communication, teamwork abilities, problem solving and an ability to deal with conflict. They are skills relating to personal interaction, as opposed to ‘hard skills’, which refers to specific abilities such as IT proficiency. While in previous years it may have been rarer to find someone with the hard skills necessary for a previous job, these days they are realistically more of a first step in the process. They ensure that your application is considered, but having an equally desirable set of soft skills is what could actually land you an offer of a permanent job.
Ways To Enhance Your Experience
Obviously, one of the best ways to prove to your future employers that you have a well-rounded skill set in this area is finding an internship or other work experience placement in a relevant field. Evidence that you have successfully previously negotiated the challenges of a professional environment is extremely useful, as it indicates you will have a quicker adjustment period when starting your new job.
However, these days getting an internship can be just as competitive as getting a job. But don’t worry if you’re having trouble finding one. Soft skills are something that transfer well across many activities, so if you help to run a society, a charity, or music group – really anything that uses ‘people skills’ – make sure you mention it.
The Value Of Soft Skills
When it comes down to it, soft skills are essential to promote a healthy working environment. Employers are going to want someone who can fit in well with their existing team of people. Anyone with a tendency to cause conflict reduces productivity and can cost a company financially as well as damaging their reputation with their customers and clients.
For example, if the job requires customer interaction, it’s vital to be able to communicate with your target market in an approachable and appropriate way, whether it’s face-to-face or by phone and email. Communication, on the whole, is probably one of the most essential skills you can have. It’s vital for solving problems efficiently and building a strong working relationship with your colleagues. It’s no good having brilliant ideas but lacking the ability to put those ideas across well.
Working on your soft skills is not only beneficial for your employers, but for you too; they are an invaluable asset in maintaining a successful career.
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