Move over hard skills, soft skills are now the most desirable traits for employers based on projected hiring trends. In fact, 94 percent of recruiters polled by iCIMS said they believe employees with more soft skills have a better chance of snagging a leadership position than those with more experience and fewer soft skills. Unlike hard skills, soft skills are less quantifiable personality traits, and are not historically taught through conventional education. Problem-solving, communication and customer service all fall into this category.
A recent study by LinkedIn showed that 57 percent of leaders think that soft skills are more important than hard skills, and there are three main skills they'll be looking for this year: leadership, communication and collaboration.
For anyone trying to climb the corporate ladder, this skill is a must-have since all managerial positions require some degree of leadership. Even as an entry-level employee, "thought leadership" is becoming the buzzword du jour. Companies want to see employees demonstrate the ability to come up with new ideas and to help guide a team toward the completion of those ideas while still practicing effective communication. So how can you brush up on leadership skills? Most community colleges offer leadership courses to audit. You can also sign up for a Massive Open Online Course, also known as a MOOCs. These courses are usually free and include classes from top schools on nearly every topic imaginable.
Every job requires some level of written or verbal communication. By failing to communicate ideas effectively, employees may not be able to explain their thoughts to a team, interface with customers effectively, or create a positive work environment. As more daily communication becomes digital, face-to-face and phone interactions seem to come less naturally to new employees. Incorporating practice phone calls into job preparation is one way to help reverse that trend. Style guides for written communication can also help turn this soft skill into something that's easily taught.
At all levels, collaboration is a key component of jobs. As a leader, you must collaborate with both your employees and fellow leaders. As an entry-level or service employee, you'll need to work together with your colleagues to solve problems and enact solutions for customers. When it comes to collaboration, the best way to improve is to practice. Designing team projects equipped with debrief surveys can help encourage collaboration, followed up by a discussion of how each employee can improve in the future.
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