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Christa Sterling

September 19th, 2016

Soft skills are valuable to many employers.

Most people focus on learning a subject and related skills when they seek to develop their careers. While it’s obviously important to have the skills needed to do your job, there are other skills — known as soft skills — that employers increasingly look for when deciding to hire, promote or retain an employee.

Soft skills are skills not directly related to a particular job or vocation. An obstetrician needs to know how to deliver babies, for example, but doesn’t necessarily need a good bedside manner to perform the required medical duties. An HR representative needs to know how to manage hiring, benefits, and issues that arise during employment, but not necessarily how to make someone feel welcome when they are hired.

Employers find soft skills important to overall job performance for many reasons. While bedside manner or a welcoming personality may not be as essential as having the technical skills to fulfill a job, they do make a big impression on others and may lead to greater success in those jobs. Here are some soft skills that will enhance your career.

1. Interpersonal skills.

Being able to work with others, relate well to people, and resolve conflict can increase productivity and make the workplace run more smoothly. Having a reputation for being “easy” or “good” to work with may help you get promoted to a leadership position or open up other opportunities through networking. Teamwork and collaboration also fall under the umbrella of interpersonal skills.

2. Adaptability.

Managing multiple tasks and adapting to changing conditions means that you will be performing better than others who can’t adapt as quickly, giving you an advantage. If you are known as flexible and able to roll with the punches, you may become the go-to person among your team, increasing your job security and position within the team.

3. Communication skills.

Communicating well is essential in the workplace, but it isn’t easy. There are many facets to communication, from knowing what to say to knowing when to be quiet. Writing skills are also part of communication, along with the ability to explain technical concepts to those who aren’t tech savvy.

Having a listening ear is part of good communication skills.

4. Problem solving.

Problem solving involves creativity and thinking outside the box to come up with effective solutions. Interviewers often ask about problem solving abilities and how you may have used them to improve a situation or reach desired outcomes. Managers value problem solving skills because it takes some of the burden of troubleshooting and fixing problems off their shoulders.

5. Technical proficiency.

Outside the IT field, it is a bonus to have employees who understand how technology works and can use it effectively on the job. When you have technical proficiency, you can use available technology to streamline processes, get more done in less time, and develop new processes that haven’t been done before.

Are you interested in improving your soft skills to enhance your career? View open courses that can enhance your career and help you develop soft skills.