If you want to achieve outstanding success in your career, you must possess some soft skills. Soft skills are what set people apart in their workplace. It is the fragrance of good relationships with others — it is the reason some people; I mean more than 60 percent of the workforce of a company may just want to always work with Mr. George instead of Mr. Jude.
Have you ever considered why your manager just loves working with George? Even though you feel you are more qualified? The reason might just be that George’s soft skills are way better than yours. This is why we are going to look at the 10 soft skills you need to achieve career growth.
These soft skills will change you for the best and put you in the right spot. However, you must promise to apply them if you want to see the changes.
Research has shown that effective employees have strong soft skills. According to Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends report, it was found that more than 90% of executives rated soft skills as a priority for their employees.
This suggests that you may be limiting your career development if you do not develop your soft skills.
So, what exactly are soft skills? And why are they so important to growing your career? Keep reading. In this article, I explain what soft skills are and also explore a list of key soft skills you must have for your career growth.
What are soft skills?
Soft skills are the attributes that show how a person or group of persons work and interact with others in the workplace. They are a combination of traits such as social skills, people skills, communicative skills, and emotional intelligence, that enable you to work harmoniously with other people in order to achieve good success.
Although you can learn these soft skills, they are not as straightforward as hard skills, — since their specific qualities can clearly be defined, measured, and taught for success in a job.
While it is easy for you to advance your hard skills by learning advanced techniques and methods, that can drive more measurable results. Soft skills may not appear as something tangible that you should advance on, however, they may prove to be more impactful when it comes to career success.
Your hard skill may only be able to help you get the job, but if you want to progress and become successful both in your job and your career, you will need these soft skills
Differences between soft and hard skills
Hard skills are the techniques and practical abilities that enable you to get the job. They are usually known as job-specific skills such as graphics designing, content writing, data analysis, mechanical engineering, plumbing, etc. These are measurable, testable, and easy-to-learn skills, unlike soft skills that may seem intangible yet very vital.
The table below highlights their differences
|Soft skills||Hard skills|
Valuable for all jobs
Not easily learned
Determines your success
Valuable for specific jobs
Learned through training
For you to achieve great success in your career, you must strike a balance between your soft skills and hard skills.
Importance of soft skills
Without soft skills, you will find it difficult to be successful in your career. Whether as an IT specialist, Software developer, Lawyer, Engineer, etc.
As a civil engineer, you won’t be good at your job and work cohesively with others if you can’t communicate processes clearly with your team. The best software developer won’t be successful if he spent all his time developing a project that’s not even a top priority.
You need to learn how to create a balance so that you become successful in your career. This is where soft skills play an important role.
How to acquire soft skills
Soft skills unlike hard skills do not require practical learning, however, they conscious effort to be successful. — You need to know when to apply a particular soft skill since they are dependent upon intangible factors.
Once you have understood these soft skills, you need to keep practicing, as it is the best way to acquire them and demonstrate them effectively. One important ingredient that helps you possess these soft skills is having a genuine concern for others.
Always listen to the people you work with, your leaders, and those you lead, — try to understand their success, challenges, opportunities, and concerns, to see if there are any skills, experiences, advice, or resources you can offer.
Practice this habit always, whether in a meeting, one-on-one conversations, or on your lunch break with the team. You’ll be amazed by how quickly you acquire these soft skills and grow your career.
How to improve soft skills
Effective communication is very important when it comes to improving your soft skills. It is the core of all many soft skills.
Communication skills, whether by email, phone, or face-to-face, are essential for fostering strong relationships within teams and groups.
Below are the steps to improve your soft skills.
Practice public speaking
Public speaking is very essential in developing and improving your soft skills. Practice public speaking helps sharpen up your skills when presenting to a large audience, — because doing so will enable you to take note of your pace, body language, volume, eye contact, and tone of voice. These are all valuable to improving your soft skills.
Cultivate good habits
Cultivate good habits that will enable you to improve your soft skills. This is a great idea if you must improve your soft skills. This means you have to focus on those habits that are more desirable while shifting those that are irrelevant to your career growth.
For example; If you struggle with listening in meetings, or with your colleagues, look for those things that distract you, like your phone, and try leaving them behind or putting them on silent when next you have a meeting.
Help others out
You should also cultivate the habit of helping others achieve success. If you see a colleague struggling, stepping in to help is a way of improving your teamwork skills, communication, and problem-solving skills.
Ask for feedback
If you want to measure your level of growth in a particular area, getting feedback is one way to achieve that. It is also a way to show that you are willing to learn and grow. Another important thing the feedback helps you achieve is that it gives you an overview of how people generally perceive you. This will help you adjust and perform better.
below are the 10 soft skills you need to achieve career growth:
1. Effective communication
You can’t really work with a team and become successful without effective communication.
Written and verbal communication skills are vital in our daily activities because they help us interact effectively with all the people we encounter whether at work, such as customers, clients, traders, and colleagues, or at school such as classmates, and lecturers; and they help us build stronger relationships.
As an individual, you need to have effective communication skills in all aspects: face-to-face, video calls, over the phone, via email, etc.
To be an effective communicator means, you are able to adapt your communication skill to any environment you find yourself in, — since everyone has different preferences.
You also need to be able to clearly express ideas and engage productively with others. And always remember that communication is a two-way process: this means you should be great at listening, understanding instructions, and carrying them out accurately.
Your communication skills should include knowing when to use different approaches to pass your message. For instance, know when to use narratives, tell a story, use illustrations, and also know when to just get straight to the point. And knowing when to listen carefully.
You need communication skills for:
- Building a rapport with new connections
- Nurturing long-term relationships
- Building Career Skills Online
- Confidence and assertiveness
- Explaining and Simplifying complex issues
- Delegating clearly
- Utilizing feedback
- Dealing with a variety of personalities
2. Active Listening
You can’t have great communication skills and your listening skills are off. But skills go hand-in-hand. All great communicators are excellent listeners.
As an active listener, you should have undivided attention during meeting presentations, and one-on-one chats with colleagues regarding business/work issues, – this, enables you to ask clarifying and intelligent questions and offer positive responses that may help the meeting/discussion.
Also, when you listen actively, you don’t need things repeated to you because you heard them the first time — this makes you not only a respected colleague but a more effective worker as well.
One important trait of active listening is — not looking at your smartphone or laptop during meetings. This helps you focus completely on the speaker, take notes and ask relevant questions, or add meaningful and intelligent contributions.
Adaptability is the ability for you to respond to changes around you, especially in your work area, and master new working skills. To be able to adapt easily and quickly to your work, you need to have a ‘can-do’ attitude.
You need to be dynamic in nature, don’t be the kind of person who always says, this is how we usually do things. There should be a better approach, learning new ways to implement and how to better improve yourself in your workplace.
Businesses are evolving through technological innovation. You should always be prepared to change along, be dynamic, flexible, and always ready to adapt. Always embrace change instead of waiting for it
Always find a way to develop yourself in your field. You can do this by following relevant influencers in your career part, you could also use online platforms like Google’s News search feature to help stay updated on your field.
Remember, an opportunity that meets a readiness is what counts as success.
4. Emotional Intelligence
People have different emotions, and they bring these emotions to the workplace. Even as an individual, there are times you may bring a negative emotion to the workplace. Having emotional intelligence will help you recognize and manage your emotions and the emotions of others.
5 key elements of emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence will help you recognize and regulate your emotions and reactions in the workplace, build rapport and positive relationships with other people, empathize with others, give — and receive — effective, constructive feedback. All these attributes are very vital in maintaining good work ethics and building a successful career path.
I bet you have always heard this popular saying, “no man is an island”.
This applies to all works of life, including your workplace. If you want to succeed, become productive, and work effectively with others, you must possess teamwork skills.
Teamwork is a skill that enables you to work harmoniously with coworkers in order to achieve a common goal. Doing things individually may take longer and may not yield the desired result. But working together as a team while putting in your individual strengths will definitely improve the quality of work, and yield greater results in a shorter period.
Also, if you are a team player, you will:
Have less conflict.
Retain people that will always want to give their best rather than leave.
Having a better and more conducive working environment.
Help create a workplace that’s attractive to clients and prospective employees
Most people lack teamwork spirit because they always see themselves as better than others and always feel no one else can handle their role better. This makes them lose trust in their coworkers.
Characteristics of an effective team player:
- Active listening – be attentive to others’ opinions, concerns, and ideas
- Know yourself – what your role is, what your strengths are, and how you can help.
- Assertiveness and not aggression
- Collaborate, cooperate, and coordinate
- Helps solve other’s problem
- Interpersonal skills
- Delegate – If someone else is better on the job, delegate and get the best result
- Gives and receives constructive feedback
- Following the leaders’ guidelines
- Sharing information and ideas
- Mediating to bring about agreement
- Negotiate and compromise
- Sharing the credit
- Appreciates and values others’ skills, experiences, and contributions
- Supports the plan even if you don’t completely agree
6. Growth Mindset
It is important to have a growth mindset if you want to move past a level.
In every workplace, you’ll always encounter challenges, these challenges will pose a stumbling block to your next level. The only way to surmount them is by having a growth mindset.
This soft skill is what helps you persevere, — even in the face of frustration. It makes you realize that you need to improve your abilities, talents, intelligence, critical thinking, and other areas if you must push forward.
For example, if you failed to meet monthly or quarterly goals, rather than seeing yourself as a failure, use that as an opportunity to highlight and identify your strengths and weaknesses, and what made you fail to tackle the next quarter’s goal.
Remember, you are only considered a failure when you give up.
Most companies and businesses are looking to employ someone with problem-solving skills. If you have these skills, you have a higher probability of being hired. This is because most jobs require this skill.
Top performers are usually able to handle difficult challenges due to their strong problem-solving skills. The company can benefit from this type of creative thinking.
Characteristics of an effective problem-solver:
- Lateral thinking
- Logical reasoning
8. Time management
Time management is very important and most companies put this as a vital soft skill an employee must have during employment.
Most people don’t know how to manage their time. They want to do everything at once. They fail to prioritize their work and end up spending more time achieving just a few results.
Time management is a way of delegating your time, organizing your work, and being specific on what to handle first and how long it should take to complete. If you fail to delegate time to your job and organize your job specifics based on your top priority, you will end up being disorganized and having little or no results.
Time management allows you to manage your workload and time effectively, so you can be as productive as possible. To be successful, you must prioritize your tasks, complete them prior to becoming urgent, and know when to delegate.
Characteristics of effective time management:
- Goal setting
- Stress management and resilience
Leadership skill is a soft skill everyone must possess, whether an employer or employee. Having leadership skills makes it easy for someone to delegate jobs with the assurance that the job will be done.
Even if you are not a leader in any role yet, it is vital to note that employers look for these qualities to determine whether you can make important decisions and manage situations and other people.
They want to see that you are able to take responsibility, and you are able to grow beyond the job.
Having leadership skills makes you capable of working independently as well as within a team, as well as taking charge and guiding the team to achieve better results. Leadership is the hardest skill to develop on your own, which is why there are so many leadership courses available.
To improve your leadership skills and quality, ensure you enroll in a leadership course.
Characteristics of an effective leader:
- Work independently with minimal guidance and supervision
- Accountability and responsibility
- Active listening
- Conflict resolution
- Emotional intelligence
- Strategic planner
- Crisis management
- Constructive feedback and encouragement
- Seeing the big picture
- Providing clear guidelines and instructions
10. Work Ethic
It takes time, effort, and hard work to succeed in a role as an employee, and company leaders and hiring managers are looking for employees who will put in the extra effort without being asked.
When you possess a strong work ethic, you prove to your employer that you believe that work is important, and you are here to make the company succeed. Strong work ethics keep you punctual and organized. You always meet deadlines, remain focused, and always have the company’s interest in succeeding. This means that you can work independently, but also follow orders.
In order to succeed at work or get promoted, you need to develop your work ethic. If it means learning new skills or tools, dedicate time to learning those outside of work hours, so you can make your time in the office as effective as possible.
Having a positive attitude is what makes it possible for you to possess all these soft skills. Always stay positive at all times and believe that no matter the situation, negative or not, there is always a positive side where you come out brighter.
Soft skills are not easy to acquire, since most of them can’t be taught. One way to acquire them is by making a cautious effort and consistently practicing and reminding yourself that you need these skills to become outstanding in your career path.
Anyone who possesses these soft skills is usually more successful. So, make sure you’re investing time and effort into auditing and improving your soft skill set.