In job search materials like a resume and cover letter, we tend to focus a lot of our attention on including the hard skills listed in the job description. We want to prove we can do the job, so we focus on the hard skills more than anything else. The problem with this logic is these skills can only get you so far.
In reality, it’s the soft skills that help you move ahead in your career. In every industry and every job, the non-technical skills are what determines if you will truly fit in a company or role. Hard skills can be learned, so it’s not always necessary for you to have all of these to land a job. Soft skills like leadership, collaboration, and communication are what give you an edge.
If you can prove you have the right soft skills, an employer is more likely to choose you because you’ll fit in with the company culture. Figure out which soft skills you already have and which skills you need to enhance, and start emphasizing them in your brand. To start, here are five soft skills to make sure you have:
One of the most important soft skills you can develop in your career is the ability to lead. Being a strong leader will mean the difference between you getting a promotion over someone else with similar qualifications. The further you move up in any industry, the more important leadership skills become.
Recommended for YouWebcast: The Art of Growth Hacking: Gaining Early Traction by Doing Things that Don't Scale
A good leader influences others to accomplish goals. Prove your leadership abilities by asking for more responsibility and going out of your way to organize new projects.
Another essential soft skill is collaboration. Someone who can work well with a team will often be much more successful than someone who cannot. Teamwork requires the ability to build solid relationships and connect with other people. You should be able to understand your coworkers and clients equally well. Understanding builds these strong relationships.
Being collaborative is just as important as being a leader because these skills play key roles in the upper level positions of all career paths. Incorporating these ideas into your brand now will set you up for success in the future.
Recent studies show 98 percent of employers believe communication skills are essential. That’s why it’s important for them to see communication skills are a staple of your brand. You need to think about all aspects of communication, including written and verbal.
Consider your conversation skills, your ability to tell a story, and the way you deliver a message. All of these factors play into being a strong communicator. You can demonstrate these skills through many aspects of your brand, such as your resume, cover letter, interview, personal website, social media, and more.
4. Work Ethic.
A strong work ethic is another important skill for your brand. Are you willing to put in more hours? Do you volunteer for extra responsibilities? How well do you manage your time? All of these habits play into your strong work ethic.
The people around you notice these things, so if you have a strong work ethic your coworkers and managers will know this. That’s why your professional references are the best opportunity to demonstrate your work ethic. Determine who you’ve worked with and who will be able to speak on your behalf. Strong references are essential for your personal brand.
5. Problem Solving.
If you can find efficient and effective solutions to problems, you will be an appealing candidate for any job. In fact, 93 percent of employers said the ability to think critically and solve complex problems is more important than a job candidate’s undergraduate degree, according to a recent survey.
You need to contribute during brainstorming sessions and come up with creative solutions to problems. Demonstrate these skills directly to your manager, and you’ll be a strong contender for the next promotion. If you’re applying for a job in a new company, you can emphasize your problem solving skills through your accomplishment stories.
Some other important soft skills to develop include: adaptability, flexibility, optimism, integrity, empathy, self-confidence, likability, and more. All of these skills play into your personal brand. Don’t just list them on your resume, though. You need to prove yourself with concrete examples of your skills in action.
Remember: hard skills will qualify you for the job, but soft skills will help you land it.
What are some other important soft skills to incorporate into your personal brand?
Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. She is also the instructor of Find Me A Job: How To Score A Job Before Your Friends, author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011) and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.