By Kyle Gingrich
Take a minute and bring up a mental image of your resume. Aside from the usual, what’s on it? Did you Google the top skills employers are looking for and tailor your list to match them as much as possible? Did you fudge a little on some? Choose words that are general enough to suggest competencies or experience, yet might be stretching the truth just a fraction?
We’ve all been there and done that, and in fact, as the hiring process evolves, it is getting harder to nail exactly what it is employers want. I did a quick Google search and I was bombarded with a slew of contradictory advice.
Looking for employment in technology is even more of a quagmire, as each year the top in-demand jobs change while that degree you worked so hard to get loses its resume punch a mere three years after graduation. And as each year passes there is new, fresh talent, aka competition, flooding the market and further making your skills and knowledge appear outdated.
So how do you stay competitive, employed or in the running for a promotion?
Keep training, keep upskilling and stay current.
But equally important, you have to make sure that your skill set, like granola, has a healthy mix of oats and nuts, or this case, hard skills and soft skills.
The ‘hard skills’, the tech skills, you probably have them covered, or know what ones you need to excel or expand in for a given IT position.
The ‘soft skills’ are subtler. These are the implicit skills you develop through self-awareness and concerted effort. Everything from communication skills, interpersonal skills, listening skills, ability to negotiate or mediate conflict to working well in a team.
As Caroline Beaton, writing for Forbes, is keen to point out, “Employers value technical skills, to be sure. But I asked more than 100 top HR managers, recruiters and CEOs which was more important for entry-level job seekers, and nearly all of them said soft skills.”
In other words, if you want to succeed, you will need to acquire the following:
- Working & Managing in a Virtual Environment
- Time Management
- Writing Skills
- Leading Change
- Work Ethic
- Humility and Patience
- Team Building
- Interpersonal Intelligence
- Emotional Intelligence
- Problem Solving Skills
In a nut shell, soft skills are essentially “people skills” and not only do they dictate how we interact with other people, they enable us to successfully navigate the complex and ever-changing work environment. They can be difficult to quantify, but like a visionary new app, they are not unattainable, it just takes focused effort.
Soft skills are best approached as if they were a hard skill, which is why we’ve organized them together into courses, giving you the familiarity of a curriculum in what might be unfamiliar terrain.
Want to see what I’m talking about? Click here.
Related blog post: The Importance of Soft Skills Training
Kyle Gingrich is the VP of IT and Certification at Skillsoft.