15 Soft Skills Every Employer Values
Employers these days are looking for much more than a resume filled with awards, achievements, and ladder-climbing success. While those hard facts and figures can put you in the running, what will make you stand out from other candidates are your soft skills. These are the skills that cannot really be quantified on paper, but are the difference between a good employee and a great one. How many of these do you have?
1. Strong communication
How you present yourself is just as important as what you’re presenting. This will be evident in your interview, but we’re usually well-rehearsed and prepared for that particular grilling. How you communicate on a day-to-day basis will be critical to your success as an employee. Can you successfully communicate your ideas, both verbally and on paper? If you are constantly searching for the right words, stuttering, and “Um”-ing, you will come across as unprepared.
The way you carry yourself, approach clients or other employees, and believe in your ideas will have a huge impact on your success. Wallflowers are not in demand unless they are some kind of savant. Someone with great confidence can outshine someone who has better ideas and abilities, but cowers when placed in the spotlight. Of course, there’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance, and if you push it too far, you can come across as cocky. If that confidence is coupled with a little humility, you’ll go far.
Very few companies are looking for a new recruit that will sit alone in an office, talking to no one and interacting only with a computer and a smartphone. People are the lifeblood of most businesses, and if you cannot get along with your co-workers, you will find yourself out of a job. Sure, some people are annoying. Some people will just never be friends outside of work. But during office hours, you have to overlook all that and get on with the task at hand. Reach out to people who can help. Be agreeable and helpful. Don’t be the rusty cog that stops the machine.
4. A positive outlook
Think about that one person in the office who has a dark cloud hanging above his or her head. Every place of work has a “Debbie Downer,” and they are no fun. They suck the air out of the room, are pessimistic, and cannot see potential. Do not be that person. A positive outlook can turn pedestrian projects into exciting opportunities. People who get hyped to work on jobs lift the energy of the whole team. You could be the injection of life that a new employer needs.
5. Critical thinking and problem solving
While these skills may not appear to be high up on the priority list for some jobs, they will always be valued. Even if it’s an entry-level job with little responsibility, the ability to think fast on your feet and come up with creative solutions will always be an asset to your future employer. If you’re a natural problem solver, you should tout that ability as much as you would a degree.
6. Emotional intelligence
It’s known as an EQ, and it is becoming one of the most prized soft skills in the workplace. Knowing your own emotions, and recognizing them within other people, is just as important as the work you’re doing. Can you empathize? Can you spot when someone is having emotional problems? Are you able to step back and realize that you need to adjust your own attitude or behavior? A high EQ can be even more valuable to an employer than a high IQ; especially if you plan on managing a team.
7. Being genuinely likable
There’s amiable, and there’s genuinely likable. Some people are just great at fitting in, finding friends, and making people around them feel completely at ease. If you’re one of these people, you should promote this kind of skill. You don’t want to brag, because that’s just going to come across as arrogant. If you really are a people person, you don’t need to say that anyway. The way you present yourself in the interview will show the interviewer how likable you are without having to say it out loud.
Life at work, much like everyday life, can change at the drop of a hat. Employers value a member of staff who can roll with the punches and excel under constantly changing conditions. Can you handle a curveball with ease? Are you fine with never knowing what you’ll be facing from one day to the next? Do you actually thrive under pressure? You will do well.
This is not about the ability to fight a bear in the woods or do a bungee jump. Workplace courage is more political and requires a different set of skills. It takes courage to stand up to the boss if he or she is about to make a decision that is bad for the company, or the customers. It takes bravery to push an idea that is unpopular with management. But, this is a skill that usually pays dividends for everyone involved. If you can stand up for something and do the right thing, despite your brain screaming at you to stay quiet, an employer that genuinely values that kind of courage is going to love you for it.
10. Excellent time management
It’s a tired cliché, but time is money. Your employer pays you for your time, and they expect an excellent return on that investment. If you do not have superb time management skills, you will not be good value for the money.
This doesn’t just mean coming in early and leaving late. This is about how you manage your day, your workload, and your specific projects. If you devote way too much time on one project and another slides because of it, that’s bad time management. If you are great at managing your time, tell your future employer. Have examples ready to prove why you are so good with this particular skill.
They say patience is a virtue, and that patience will be rewarded. When it comes to the job market, they’re spot on. Patience is something we learn as we grow (how many patient five-year-olds have you met?), and some of us learn it far better than others. If you fly off the handle if your report is two minutes late, or get incredibly frustrated because you want to move on that deal right away, you could become a liability. Taking a breath, assessing the situation, and handling it with maturity is an essential skill employers are looking for. It also means the boss won’t be afraid of you diving headfirst into decisions without thinking them over.
12. Strong organization skills
This applies not just to physical organization, but mental as well. A messy desk or workstation will never be an asset to your career, even if it does prove how busy you are. Keep your space tidy, even if your home is chaotic because that’s the way you like it.
If you are also great at organizing people, events, and meetings, you should talk about how this benefited your employers in the past. Any business is going to find someone with strong organizational skills to be a great asset to the team.
Diplomacy is described as, “The art of dealing with people in a sensitive and effective way.” If you have a great EQ, as mentioned earlier, you’re halfway there already. However, the notable second part of that description is the word “effective.” If you are a great diplomat, you not only know how to handle people with great tact, but also how to influence them to get the result you want. Diplomacy is a great skill to have in the political arena, but it comes in handy in any business that requires two different parties coming together to reach a mutually beneficial agreement.
14. Attention to detail
Theirs a typo in this sentence. Did you spot it? Well, it was a fairly obvious one, made on purpose, but someone with a keen eye for details wouldn’t have needed that clue. Likewise, someone that is very detail oriented will be of great value to any company. Whether it’s catching errors in a news release, or being extremely particular about the way a certain procedure is handled, that kind of attention to detail is valued and appreciated.
Last, but by no means least, is the ability to be upfront and truthful from day to day. This does not mean brutal honesty (“Wow John, that suit looks hideous on you”), but the kind of honesty that means people come to you for a genuine response. Not only that, but you will also be trusted more, and respected for your opinions.
Sure, sometimes people don’t like your answer, but in the long run, it’s better for everyone. Couple this with courage, and you will be the kind of employee that can really make a difference to the company.