The Importance of Soft Skills

What are so-called “soft skills” and why are they important? Soft skills refer to the cluster of personal traits and habits that mark each employee to varying degrees. Persons with good soft skills are generally the people that most employers want to hire. Soft skills complement “hard” skill, which are the technical requirements of a job.

The ideal, of course, is someone strong in both job-related technical and person (e.g. “soft”) skills. Job skills certainly are not unimportant, but while certain skills can be taught on the job, effective soft skills should be present by the time a given individual is hired. If not, these abilities need to be acquired quickly or employment is likely to be in jeopardy.

Examples of Soft Skills

  • Work ethic – This is the motivating belief that employees owe their employer a full day of diligent work, including following their supervisor’s instructions.
  • Courtesy – This skill refers to the habitual use of “please,” “thank you,” “excuse me,” and “May I help you?” in dealing with co-workers, customers, and supervisors.
  • Teamwork and commitment – This is the ability to share responsibilities, confer with others, help others do their jobs, genuinely want to do a good job, and seek help when needed.
  • Self-discipline and self-confidence – This is the soft skill that involves arranging one’s tasks for maximum job performance, learning from experience, asking questions and correcting mistakes, and accepting criticism and direction without feeling defeated, resentful, or insulted.
  • Conformity to prevailing norms – This is the ability to govern one’s attire, grooming, body language, the tone of voice, and vocabulary according to the particular culture of the specific workplace.

 Someone with Soft Skills is…

What traits would characterize someone with good soft skills? Put another way, someone with good soft skills is:

  • Friendly, but not obnoxious;
  • A “doer” not a talker;
  • Positive, not a complainer;
  • Not interested in “rocking the boat,” but who also isn’t afraid to challenge “conventional wisdom” since he/she knows how to do so tactfully and politely;
  • A worker who understands that he/she is there to help the business succeed, and not just to pick up a paycheck; and
  • Conscientious about having good hygiene, wearing proper clothes for the job, shaving regularly, etc.

Are there some soft skills that you need to work on? Is there a personal issue that is affecting your soft skills?  KeySolutions can help; give us a call 605-334-5850 or 888-450-7844.

Source: “Social Skills in the Workplace,” Center for Career Opportunities, Purdue University.

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