How Soft Skills Are Essential for Career Growth

When applying for jobs, most people focus on their education and career highlights, listing their degrees, work experience, and other qualifications that they think will help them land the job. 

But, there are more important skills that many job applicants often overlook. And this set of skills can help you land the job you have always wanted.

Soft skills are the interpersonal skills that we all possess and determine how well we deal with common issues that may crop up in the workplace. Let’s break down the six most important soft skills you should focus on to help you grow your career.

What Are Soft Skills?

Soft skills deal with more than just being a team player and how you manage your time. Soft skills are the important interpersonal and personal skills that we all possess. While some might have a better handle on how they work within a team, others would do well in learning how to grow their soft skills.

Advancing your career is undoubtedly an important goal for many. By working on your soft skills and implementing these in your workplace, you, too, can further your career by being the best employee you can possibly be. 

Many soft skills can help you achieve success in any career. Here are our top six soft skills that you should focus on if you want to climb the corporate ladder.

Emotional Intelligence

Your EQ, or emotional quotient, tells a lot about the type of person you are. Empathy, compassion, understanding, and self-awareness are all key elements of emotional intelligence and can often influence how you interact with people in the workplace. Empathy, understanding, and conflict resolution skills are necessary for cohesion in any workplace. 

Managing your own behavior in a stressful situation is important and can help you diffuse a possible workplace disaster. Understanding that others might not have the same coping mechanisms and helping them where possible can make for a more team-oriented workplace.

Communication

How you communicate with others in the workplace and your team says a lot about the type of person you are. Communication in a professional environment is one of the most important aspects of a business. From communicating with team members about a project to communicating with outside sources like clients and shareholders, there is simply no way that any business can survive if its employees have poor communication skills. 

Open channels of communication are key to any business’s success and include:

  • Active participation in meetings
  • Communicating on a professional, interpersonal and personal level with colleagues
  • Speaking up when you have a great idea that can help you further your career

Adaptability

Changes in your personal or professional life can greatly impact how you adapt to certain situations. But, change is not always necessarily a bad thing. Adapting to a possibly stressful change in your workplace is important. 

When faced with a change in your workplace, like a change in policy or how a task should be done, analyze how the change will impact your job, learn new strategies, and implement the necessary changes. 

Understanding that change is necessary for any business environment is key to how you handle change and can help you make the transition from one way of working to the next that much easier. 

Time Management

How we manage our time influences not only our personal life but our professional or work life too. Trying to find the balance between your work and personal life is not always easy, but separating the two is often necessary to ensure that personal issues do not affect your focus and performance at work. 

No one is perfect and it can be hard to find the right balance. Make a daily list of the things you need to accomplish for the day and prioritize them accordingly. 

Critical Thinking

A big project is due and your team has run into a problem that can possibly see the project being scrapped. What do you do? This is where critical thinking comes in. 

Many people tend to look at the problem as a whole, trying to fix it as quickly and efficiently as possible. Critical thinkers will tackle the problem in parts and deal with each issue separately. This allows for better decision-making and focusing on what needs to be done. 

Work Ethic

Are you a go-getter, or do you need a guiding hand when managing a project or task at work? While nothing is wrong with asking for help, how you tackle a task greatly influences your work ethic. 

Employers often look for candidates with a great work ethic, but what exactly does this mean? A few things that influence your work ethic are a positive attitude, critical thinking skills, and of course, time management. Taking pride in your work says a lot about the type of person you are and your work ethic. 

Eight Soft Skills

How Can I Grow my Soft Skills?

Growing your soft skills can help you get ahead in your career. Now that we’ve identified the most important skills every employee should have, let’s look at how to improve these skills.

Step 1: Identify your strengths and weaknesses

This is a tough one and requires self-reflection. Be honest about the areas you know you need to work on and list the soft skills that need improvement. 

Step 2: Ask for feedback

Speak to those closest to you, such as friends, colleagues, and family members, and ask them for feedback on the skills that they might feel you need to improve on. This can often be hard to hear, but see it as feedback rather than criticism. Those around you are often more aware of the skills you need to work on and can help identify them.  

Step 3: Focus on the areas that need improvement

If communication is a soft skill that needs improvement, focus on ways to improve your communication. Adopt a professional attitude and look at how you communicate with others. Make a concerted effort to improve one skill before moving on to another. 

Step 4: Step out of the comfort zone

Change does not always come easy, and trying to change the way you handle certain situations comes with its own challenges. The best change you can possibly make when working on your soft skills is to let go of any preconceived notions or ideas about how things should be and adapt your skills to help you further your career. 

Step 5: Adapt

Implement the changes you have made to your soft skills and put them into play to be the best employee and colleague that you can possibly be. Adapting to a workplace environment is essential and so is being a team player. Use your soft skills to make better decisions, manage your time more effectively, and increase the communication within your team. 

Conclusion

Soft skills are those skills that we never really think about until we are faced with a situation in the workplace. How we communicate with others, adapt to changes in the workplace, and implement critical thinking are all excellent examples of soft skills that can help us grow our careers and climb the corporate ladder. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses in a professional environment is essential to bettering yourself and becoming the best employee possible, putting you on the top of every list when a promotion is available.  

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