WHAT ARE SOFT SKILLS? WHY ARE THEY IMPORTANT?
Submitted by Mike Doody -- CCC Volunteer and Board Member, Retired executive search consultant.
In your search process, by the time you are invited in for an interview a determination has been made by the interviewer that you "appear" to be qualified for the position. That is determined by the interviewer's review of your resume in light of the position description/profile. So in the interview, the interviewer is basically trying to ascertain two things:
· First, she wants to "verify and expand" on what she thought she saw from the resume in terms of your background, experiences, skills, accomplishments -- as they relate to the position profile of the ideal candidate.
· Secondly, the interviewer wants to gain insight into your personality, how you perform various functions in the job. She is looking for your "fit" with her (the hiring manager), the team, the corporate culture of the organization. She is interested in understanding your personality.
How is the "fit" determined? To some degree it "a feeling". It is a "heart & gut sense", as much as it is a head decision. And getting a "feel" of your personality is gained, in part, through evaluating some key soft skills.
Just what are "soft skills"? Soft skills are abilities that are associated with your personality. The more commonly identified soft skills include:
· Work ethic
· Attitude (Does the candidate have a positive, can-do attitude?)
· Self-motivation (Does the candidate exhibit a willingness and ability to initiate action to get a task completed?)
· Team oriented (Has the candidate talked about previous experiences demonstrating a "we", not just an "I" attitude and approach?)
· Handling multiple priorities (Has the candidate talked about examples of managing multiple and changing priorities?)
· Works well under pressure
· Demonstrates flexibility
· Good/effective communicator
These are the more commonly identified soft skills. Virtually all of these soft skills are valued by companies in the people they hire. Because it is widely accepted that the "soft skills" have a tremendous amount to do with determining "the fit". And therefore they are factors that hiring managers and other interviewers look for in the recruitment/hiring process.
Given the above, it is critical that candidates, in evaluating and assessing what they have to offer to future employers, should not only be cognizant of the soft skills they possess. But candidates should be prepared, when discussing their skills/strengths/experiences in an interview, to demonstrate the soft skills they bring to any future position.