Here’s a pop quiz for all of you who are wondering what skills will be required to advance quickly in your career:
Name the top skills that companies want from their employees:
- Technical skills/hard skills
- Social media skills
- Soft skills
You may think that with the level of tech savviness that most workplaces require these days, choice #1, technical skills/hard skills would be a clear favorite. After all, don’t top software engineers even have agents these days? While it’s true that if you aren’t able to perform the technical aspects of a job, you may have a hard time landing that job, but you probably won’t get very far in said career unless your number one priority is working on #3, your soft skills. In fact, in a recent study co-led by American Express, over 60 percent of managers said that soft skills were the most important skill that will help employees move quickly up the ranks and into the realm of management. Technical skills? Those were favored by 32 percent of employers, and social media skills were only ranked high by 7 percent.
So, seeing that soft skills seem to be in high-demand, let’s get more specific about what types of soft skills training you should be honing in on to make sure you start moving up the ladder.
Organization and dependability? Yup, those are top soft skills
Since the Great Recession, workplaces have had to deal with a shortage of workers, but often the same amount of work. To streamline and maximize productivity, companies prize those employees who are able to prioritize what needs to get done, stay organized, hit deadlines, and deliver results. Doing less with more is a common mantra for many offices these days, as you are probably well-aware. If you are interested in advancing, therefore, take note that learning how to stay organized, be dependable, and be efficient are keys to your career success.
A positive attitude goes a long way
Attitude is everything, so the saying goes, but what does this have to do with soft skills training? Well, everything, as it turns out. Maintaining a positive attitude on the job, even if you’re not passionate about what you’re doing, makes you easier and more enjoyable to work with. A positive attitude inspires others, boosts morale, and demonstrates your willingness to help advance your company’s goals. A study found that 46 percent of new hires fail in the first 18 months on the job. Their primary reason for failing? Eighty-nine percent failed because of their attitude, and only 11 percent failed because of their inability to perform the work. The key takeaway? Adjust your attitude and stay positive – this is one of the soft skills that will truly take you far.
So you say you want to be a leader?
If you have aspirations to lead, know that it requires a team-oriented attitude, which is a soft skill that requires time to develop. Many millennials, who make up a good portion of the workforce, tend to have weaker soft skills because they focus more on the technical requirements of a job, and the very nature of our hyper-connected culture means that people engage less personally with others and are more comfortable with virtual forms of interaction. However, those who know how to lead understand that soft skills training will set them apart from others in the workforce and improve their chances of advancing and making a difference in their organization.
You don’t have to work on your soft skills training in a vacuum
As you start to focus on improving your soft skills, know that this task may not get you the type of tangible feedback you’re used to getting from your hard skills. Soft skills are not directly measured by metrics, increased revenue, or stats (though they certainly can influence these numbers!). As you begin working on improving your organizational skills, your attitude, and your team-skills, ask for feedback from your colleagues. Do they enjoy working with you? Are you making their jobs easier? What could you be doing to foster a more collaborative and productive workplace? Asking for feedback will help you as you foster the soft skills that are key to improving your chances of being on the fast track and propelling your career.