If you’re looking to improve your job prospects, going to college is definitely a great step in the right direction.
However, don’t make the mistake of attending interviews without first understanding the importance of soft skills.
So – What Exactly Are Soft Skills?
Soft skills can be broadly defined as those skills that don’t fall under technical knowledge and are not defined by the actual position but are still valuable to employers.
Think of them as the skills you don’t learn in class or from reading a book.
For example, let’s say you earn your dental assistance certificate. Potential employers will definitely care about that. They’ll also care about what kind of technical training this entailed, as well. These would be considered hard skills.
However, given the nature of the job, an employer will probably also appreciate if you are a good communicator and team player.
Those would be soft skills.
Why Soft Skills Matter So Much to Your Career Prospects
It’s always a good idea to develop your soft skills, but it is extremely important that you bring some to the table when applying for entry level positions.
That’s because you’ll most likely be competing against other applicants with similar resumes. They will have their certificate or associate degree – depending on the industry – but, like you, they probably won’t have a lot of experience.
All things being equal, the job will most likely go to the candidate who has proven they have valuable soft skills.
The 3 Soft Skills Employers Want Most
According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers Job Outlook 2017 survey, there are 20 soft skills that employers look for when assessing candidates for jobs.
Let’s look at the 3 most valuable to these employers and how you can prove that you possess them.
1. Problem Solving
The ability to solve problems on your own is actually tied for first with the next one. More than 80% of employers identified this as the most important soft skill candidates can possess. That’s a lot.
It makes sense, too. Employers understand that entry-level applicants will need a certain amount of training and coaching.
What they don’t want is someone who will constantly ask them for help every time a new problem arises.
Fortunately, one of the most common interview questions is about a time you overcame a challenge at work on your own (now you know why).
If that doesn’t come up during your interview, find an opportunity to work such an example into one of your answers. It could win you the job.
Other common questions where you could do this would include:
- What’s one of your strengths? It couldn’t be easier: “problem solving.” Then go on to give them an example.
- Why should we hire you? Again, tell them you’re a problem solver and then justify this with a story.
Are you a good team player? As just about every job these days involves that you work alongside others, employers want to know that you won’t have any trouble with this. You want to show them that, while you’re capable of solving problems on your own, you are just as comfortable doing so in a team setting.
That’s why this soft skill is tied for first.
The easiest way to do this is to put an example right on your resume. If you have any experience working in a collaborative environment, you want to make sure it receives plenty of attention during the interview.
Of course, “Are you a team player?” is also a very common interview question.
Just be sure that you don’t begin and end your answer with, “yes.” Go into detail describing what makes you a good team player. Most importantly, describe a time when you and your team worked toward and achieved a common goal.
No one wants to hire someone who struggles to clearly communicate. At best, this can be frustrating. At worst, this can hurt the employer’s business if you’ll be speaking to customers or depended upon to relay vital information.
First and foremost, show the interviewer that you have this soft skill by communicating clearly with them. Speak up and articulate. Practice common interview questions so that you don’t struggle with your responses.
Don’t stop there, though. Maintain good eye contact, too. Ask clarifying questions when you need more information before responding. Do your best not to interrupt them.
By the time the interview is done, the employer should have solid proof that you’re someone who communicates well.
Obtain the Soft Skills and Education You Need for a Better Future
Are you looking to improve your job prospects?
If so, we’d love to hear from you. Aside from our programs, we also have a career services department that can help you prepare for job interviews so you effectively show off the soft skills mentioned above.
Image Link: https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/manager-businessman-plan-improve-his-soft-270552five21?src=dGNZi3gKX86uwTEnkHKzCA-1-1