Soft-skills are indispensable on the job market

Some of the latest hiring trends support the need for soft-skills giving an indication that employers are willing to wait on finding the right person who can demonstrate and discuss both their technical and people (soft) skills. In the past, soft-skills often took second place when job searching being seen as a plus rather than a need to do the job.

The main compliant from hiring decision makers is that candidates continue to lack strong communication skills and are too vague during interviews when talking about their background. It’s difficult to assess “vague”, which leads interviewers to create hypothetical scenarios for candidates to test how they would handle work situations using soft skills.

A recent survey on behalf of Cengage, the U.S.-based education and technology company, validates the necessity for soft-skills more than ever as automation in the workforce continues to grow. Hiring managers look for candidates who demonstrate the ability to develop rapport and communicate effectively.

According to the survey, most employers 73 percent noted the difficulty in finding quality candidates, with about 1/3 of them citing schools as part of the problem in not adequately preparing students for jobs.

Keep in mind when employers look for candidates they think in terms of present and future. They look for those with good discernment relating to soft-skills and with the potential for future growth. Building rapport with the interviewer demonstrates your ability to communicate and have a good discussion.

The survey indicated the most sought after soft-skills are

  • Listening
  • Attention to detail
  • Effective communication
  • Critical thinking
  • Interpersonal skills.

You can improve your interviews by discussing how you have successfully used these types of skills during your career.

Having a technical degree gives you credibility while having interpersonal skills gives you likeability; both are required to stand out with employers.

Want to strengthen your soft-skills during an interview? Follow the tips below:

• Keep good eye contact and be aware of your nonverbal language when others are talking.
• Find common ground or shared interest to use as a connection point.
• Be genuine with your interactions, employers can usually spot someone who is insincere.
• Listen attentively by responding with a smile and asking questions.
• When meeting others, treat everyone with respect regardless of title.
• Ask clarifying questions especially if you are uncertain of the request, it helps the interviewer to feel understood and sends a message that you are focused and listening.
• Use storytelling techniques to highlight your soft-skills and keep your answers memorable.

What are your thoughts regarding soft-skills? How can schools help prepare students for the workplace?

Kim Thompson