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What are soft skills and how can I use them to get a job?


2nd November 2021

Have you ever seen a job ad and thought, “Wow I’d love to apply for that but I’m not sure I have the right technical skills for the job”? 

The good news is many employers are now hiring candidates based on their soft skills, prioritising “fit” over function.  

But what are soft skills and why do they matter?
 

WHAT ARE SOFT SKILLS?

Your soft skills (things like your personality, attitude, and social and emotional intelligence) have a big impact on how you perform at work, from achieving KPI’s to making friends in the lunchroom. 

Unlike hard skills (the technical skills that are relevant to your job), your soft skills can mean the difference between you and the next applicant. Though your qualifications or background may be similar (e.g. you’ve both completed a Cert II in Hospitality), your soft skills (how you communicate, problem solve, work in a team) may be worlds apart. 

So, if you’re looking for work and want to improve your job prospects, developing and showcasing your soft skills is a good place to begin. 

To help you get started we’ve put together a list of the top soft skills employers are looking for in an employee. Even if you think you know what your strongest soft skills are - maybe you're a team player or a great communicator - you might be surprised to learn what other, lesser talked about skills fit into those larger categories (stuff like time management, delegation, active listening, and empathy).

 

Work Ethic
Having a good work ethic says a lot about who you are. It says you can meet deadlines, be organised, work independently, and be a dependable part of the team. Employers want team members who they can rely on, and who give 110% every day.  

Developing a solid work ethic can be challenging at times but it has its benefits. Those with a strong work ethic are often rewarded with promotions, pay increases, opportunities for upskilling, and more flexibility at work. 

 

Communication
Communication is one of the most sought-after soft skills. Being a good communicator means you have the ability to connect with clients, customers, teammates, and your boss effectively. There are many ways you can communicate at work including making a phone call, writing an email, serving a customer, or even jumping on a Zoom call. No matter how you communicate it’s important to remember that communication is always a “two-way street”. 

Mastering the art of communication is not just about talking – it's about listening too. Being an active listener is a valuable soft skill that can help you understand the needs of your team/client/customer. Listening can also help build trust and relationships, making it easier to communicate in the long term.  

 

Team Work
Teamwork plays a vital role in the success of any business. Employers want to hire candidates who are team players because they know how to collaborate and create positive work environments. Team players often have high emotional intelligence which allows them to understand and manage their emotions, and the emotions of those around them. Many of us develop emotional intelligence (things like self-awareness, empathy, problem-solving) through our own life experiences, whether it be raising a family or navigating personal relationships. 

If you can work well in a team you are showing your future employer that you a. are a good communicator and b. someone who is able to consider the different personalities, strengths, and skillsets of their teammates to get the job done. 


Leadership 
Decision-making, delegation, project management, problem-solving, and conflict resolution are just some of the soft skills that fall under the broad umbrella of leadership. Leadership is more than just “managing people”, it’s about having influence, and showing that you are actively invested in the success of the business. If your goal is to get promoted to a more senior role (e.g. Barista to Cafe Manager) or move into a different part of the business, focusing on your leadership skills is essential. 
Employers are more likely to consider a job candidate if they can see a future that stretches beyond their initial role.

 

Common Soft Skills

Update your resume with your top 5 soft skills! Make sure you read the job ad and role description to match your skills with the position at hand. 

  • adaptable
  • flexible
  • innovative
  • willingness to learn
  • attention to detail
  • reliable
  • works well under pressure
  • safety-conscious
  • can do attitude
  • independent
  • punctual
  • resilient
  • friendly
  • thinks outside the box

 

HOW CAN I DEVELOP MY SOFT SKILLS? 

If you’re applying for jobs and are unsure what to list under the “Key Skills & Attributes” section of your resume you can chat to your HELP Coach. They will help you decide which soft skills to include, and find examples of how you have applied these skills in previous roles, or in your everyday life.

Your HELP Coach can also identify training courses or resources if you would like to further develop your soft skills. This is a great way to get a head start on other applicants who may be applying for the same jobs as you.

 

We're here to help you find a job that's right for you. Call 1800 877 545 to speak with one of our experienced coaches, or enquire below!