We can all see how taking classes, attending workshops, or participating in trainings can build our hard skills. Hard skills are trainable abilities. They include such things as how to operate machinery or equipment, knowledge of software, or the ability to process payroll. Hard skills are easy to quantify and measure. Soft skills, not so much. Soft skills refer to a set of attributes that enhance your relationships and job performance. The ability to listen well, effective communication, being positive, showing respect, building trust, and demonstrating good manners are all examples of soft skills.
Your resume may reflect your hard skills, and this can help you secure an interview. Your soft skills, however, will help you get (and keep!) the job. It is not enough for an organization’s employees to be able to perform their jobs. They must also know how to handle themselves at the office, relate with customers, and interact with peers in order to strengthen the organization’s competitive advantage.
Developing your soft skills can help you in other aspects of your life – not just in your career. When you really make the effort to strengthen your personal attributes, you can improve your relationships with family members, set an example for others, attract more like-minded people, and gain a better sense of control in your life. And when it comes to your soft skills in the workplace, they don’t just apply to your current job. The soft skills you possess can be taken with you from job to job and can be what distinguishes you from other applicants or other employees.
If improving your soft skills is something you want to work on, try to focus on one or two attributes. Don’t overwhelm yourself by attempting to improve ten traits at once. Instead, pick one or two that you are already confident in and work to make them better. Listening skills, integrity, time management, collaborating with others, accepting responsibility…. Which one(s) are you going to enhance?