How to Be More Proactive with Your Soft Skill Development

Have you heard the terms “soft skills, transferable skills” and “emotional intelligence” during your job search?

They aren’t just buzzwords. Research by Harvard University and other leading institutions shows that 75 percent of long-term job success is related to the mastery of soft skills and only 25 percent is attributed to technical strengths. LinkedIn lists the most important soft skills as communication, leadership, critical thinking, listening, adaptability, organization, teamwork and punctuality.

  • Employees with well-honed soft skills are 12 percent more productive, which equates to a 256 percent return on an employer’s hiring investment. So, you can see why these skills are so important as you market yourself as a candidate. You may be a tech wizard, but if you lack emotional intelligence, you’re not likely to make the short list for your dream job.

How to Improve Your Soft Skills

Because soft skills are often innate personality traits, you probably already possess several of them. But whether or not they come to you naturally, these traits can be developed with the right practice and experience.

  • Pick a skill you want to improve and practice it both on and off the job. For instance, you can practice punctuality by getting up 15 minutes earlier or starting on projects a day or two ahead of schedule.
  • Emulate the emotional intelligence you see in others. Observe their practices and behaviors and then incorporate them into your own daily routine.
  • Set milestone goals. Carefully read your performance reviews or ask a trusted friend or colleague for constructive criticism on how you could build your soft skills. This will help you identify key areas for improvement. Prioritize which skills to work on, based on those required in a job you are seeking. Then set specific, measurable goals in terms of skill improvement.
  • Tap into learning resources. Have an open mind and attitude about learning new soft skills at every possible opportunity. Take continuing education or online courses. Many are free or low-cost. Take advantage of relevant seminars, workshops, podcasts, TED talks and webinars.

Showcase Your Strengths

Transferable skills should be clearly showcased on your resume and during networking and interviewing conversations.

  • Start with the job posting. Soft skills often are listed. For example, a post for a marketing specialist may include “great communication skills” as a desired trait.
  • When deciding which skills to include on your resume, consider those that are called for in the job post and those that your references could verify you have. For instance, in the skills section of your resume, you may list your technical skills as “learning new technology, Mac OS” and “Blackboard.” To this, you could also include “Additional skills: Written and verbal communication, organization and teamwork.”
  • Weave your soft skills into interview responses. For example, when your interviewers ask you to “tell us about a time you overcame an obstacle,” elaborate on your problem-solving capability. Remember to provide specific examples and to focus on the measurable results you achieved.

As you search for your next career opportunity, consider working with an experienced recruiter from TRS Professional Solutions. We can help you highlight and perfect your full skillset, as well as uncover opportunities in your field nationwide, via our vast client network. Contact us today to learn more.