Whether you are looking to go to university, get a job straight out of college, or are looking into getting into an apprenticeship, chances are you are thinking about grades and qualifications to prove what you know. Showing that you have the necessary skills is an important part of getting a decent job, but there is more to having a successful career than technical know-how. Indeed, research from HBR shows that, as people rise higher in their careers, “technical and functional expertise matters less than leadership skills and a strong grasp of business fundamentals.” Basically speaking, this means ‘soft skills.’
While these skills can’t easily be taught on a training course, you can learn them by watching others and seeing how the most successful people lead, communicate, and influence others. While you may be working your way up from the bottom of the career ladder, you may as well start cultivating these soft skills now – they may even prove useful in your life outside work!
- Communication Skills
Making sure you are heard and understood is the most important part of communicating effectively, whether in writing or speaking. This also means being able to speak with people from different backgrounds and in different parts of your organisation. Treating others with respect while managing to get your message across with influence, directness, and (where required) compassion will certainly get your further than hiding away or being brash and rude. Regardless of what career choices you make, communication is always going to play a part in how you get on.
Being able to influence your colleagues, clients, customers, and associates is a great skill to acquire. When you think of influencing others you may see it as a negative or sinister trait, but this needn’t be the case. By understanding the people you are speaking to you can offer them solutions and ideas, so far from being about tricking people it can be about offering sincere advice. Of course, in the world of business, if this advice is also beneficial to your company, then all to the good!
Being able to stay humble will also help your career as it grows. Nobody likes an egotistical show-off or a big head. Let others take credit for their work, thank people for their help, and ask for help where you need it. Rather than making you look weak or unable to cope, showing humility will show that you are able to put the needs of the business before your own ego. It shows that you are willing to learn and improve, and will also help keep your colleagues on your side. Being part of a successful team or business is about working together and letting others use their strengths to support you.
These soft skills are not just tied to work and your career goals, but can be of use in various parts of your life, from speaking to your parents or teachers to when you hang out with your friends. Of course, the good thing is that you have plenty of time to practice and improve them outside the workplace too!
These three examples are not the only soft skills that will help you get ahead, but they certainly won’t hurt!