When you’re looking for a job, it can be easy to get caught up in your technical achievements. Whether it’s how many products you’ve sold in a given month or how many certifications you’ve earned over the course of your career, these can seem like the most important things to promote both on your resume and in your interview.
However, the truth is that many employers care just as much about your interpersonal qualifications, otherwise known as the traits that help you build relationships. As you single out which companies you want to apply for, it’s important to showcase both sides of your profile.
At Goodwill of Central and Northern Arizona, we can tell you that focusing on your soft skills can do wonders for your salary. We’ll look at the top 10 skills that you’re likely to need and why they’re so important.
1. Conflict Management
Debate at work is not only unavoidable, but it’s also actually necessary for any staff that wants to be successful. All teams need to be able to disagree with one another when it’s warranted. However, there does come a point when the arguing becomes toxic to the environment, and ultimately hinders progress.
People who can successfully navigate disagreements are naturally valuable to an organization. Conflict management doesn’t mean avoiding conflict, but rather listening to both sides before coming up with a solution — preferably one that works for both parties.
This general term can encompass anything from emails to body language to informal conversations with coworkers. It can even apply to any public speaking that you may need to do on the job. What you say and how you say it matters, which is why this skill is typically listed on job postings.
How you speak to others will depend on a variety of factors. For instance, introverts may struggle with finding their voice in a crowd. Extroverts might find that they dominate conversations without meaning to. The good news is that anyone can get better at communication if they make an effort to practice.
Empathy is the art of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes before doing anything else. It’s a proven way to understand where other people are coming from, so you can form stronger relationships with them. Empathy is not pity or even sympathy, but a sincere attempt at meeting people where they are (instead of where you want them to be).
This soft skill can give you a lot of insight about what’s going on below the surface. For instance, someone who seems to be complaining at first glance might be raising a very important point that others didn’t catch.
Some people love the art of negotiation. To them, everything is up for debate. However, there’s an art to perfecting this skill. At Goodwill, we help people ask for what they want without overstepping. At work, you might need to negotiate the terms of a contract, work out the division of labor with a coworker, or ask your boss for a raise. Each situation will require a different approach, and it helps to be aware of the best strategy before jumping in.
It would be easy to assume that leadership skills are really only for managers, supervisors, CEOs, etc. However, all employees can potentially be put in a leadership position, even if it’s only for a single project. There are multiple schools of thought about what makes for a good leader, but the reality is that most share at least a few core characteristics. You need to have the confidence to both speak up and the ability to motivate those who follow you.
Working in a group can be a challenge for many people, particularly if they have a very clear vision of how everything should go. Real teamwork is more than just listening to others, it’s taking action based on what they have to say. It’s discussing solutions with people and letting colleagues take the ball without questioning every move they make. While you may find yourself implementing some of your leadership skills when working in a team, the goal is more to be a part of the end goal rather than the provider.
This skill is wrapped up in basically every other soft skill that you can have, but it is worth putting in its own category. If you’ve ever tried to tell a boss something important and they barely responded to you, then you already know the ripple effects of poor listening skills.
At Goodwill, we teach people the simple art of paraphrasing. Summarizing what a person has to say so they know that they were heard can go a long way toward strengthening your relationships at work. Sometimes called active listening, it’s a skill that’s equally useful in both personal and professional situations.
Is your colleague failing to catch on to a new concept? Is the printer broken yet again? Does the client make everyone rush to meet a deadline, only to delay a project on their end? These are all relatively common events that can irritate people who just want to move forward.
Patience comes with taking a pause and remembering that waiting is not the end of the world, nor would it necessarily be a good thing if you did attempt to hurry everything along. After all, you need your colleagues to understand the objectives if you’re going to get anything done.
The most technically qualified person in the world isn’t going to last long at a job if no one else can count on them. Dependability means coming into work on time, getting all of your work done and, when possible, going the extra mile. When people know that they can trust you, it can do wonders for your status on the job. It’s usually only a matter of time before you end up on the promotion fast-track.
Dealing with the many (many) changes at a job can feel like a lot of pressure. As soon as you get used to one system, your boss calls for the exact opposite. Or you put all your effort into something, only to find that you need to start over again because someone else changed their mind.
While clearly a frustrating situation for anyone to be in, flexibility (along with patience) can help you keep the bigger picture in mind. Sometimes changes are necessary to keep an organization on track, and having the skills to run with it can make a difference in your career.
Working On Your Interpersonal Skills
There are few people in the world who wouldn’t benefit from working on their interpersonal skills, but the stakes are higher when you’re searching for a job. If you’re interested in making yourself a more attractive candidate to a quality employer, Goodwill of Central and Northern Arizona is here to give you an edge. Our classes focus on technical skills, like navigating Excel, but we can also help with soft skills. The latter is often what leads to long-term success — regardless of your chosen career.