Do you have the social skills it takes to win over employers and work well with others?
Having the right certificate or associate degree is essential, but most employers want to know that you’re someone who possesses adequate social skills, as well.
In fact, they may even opt for a candidate who is technically less qualified simply because they are clearly more social.
Don’t let this happen to you.
5 Ways to Begin Improving Your Social Skills
Unfortunately, many people think that you’re either born with strong social skills or you’re doomed to live your life without them.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
While it will take some work to begin building them, the following methods will help improve your social skills, something that will make you a more attractive job candidate and most likely benefit you in your personal life, as well.
1. Start Small
If you’re not already a social person, the thought of suddenly introducing yourself to strangers and holding a conversation can be too overwhelming to consider.
That’s why you should start small. Try giving yourself a goal for the day. Start with simply talking to one new person.
It can be the cashier at your grocery store, a classmate, or a neighbor you’ve never met. All you have to do is ask them one question. Something like “How’s your day?” is just fine.
When that becomes easy, try asking the person two questions. Follow up that last one with, “Big plans this weekend?” or “did you see the game last night?”
You’re not trying to start an entire conversation. You’re just trying to get past that initial question.
Once that becomes easy, try to talk to two or three people a day. Over time, you’ll find that taking this kind of initiative is no longer a problem.
2. Make Eye Contact
You can do this alongside the last tip or you can implement it once you get comfortable.
Either way, eye contact is extremely important in conversation, especially when you’re trying to be persuasive (something you definitely want to be during a job interview).
It also signals that you’re engaged and listening to the other person.
As most people don’t associate eye contact with a lack of social skills, simply looking the other person in the eye can go a long way toward making you seem more sociable than you may really be at the moment.
3. Choose Open-Ended Questions
If all you do is implement the two practices we just covered, you should enjoy a marked improvement in your social skills. You’ll definitely be better prepared for a job interview.
That said, you may still run into issues if the conversation hits a lull. Now you need to work on regaining momentum.
This probably won’t occur during a job interview, but it could easily happen while on the job.
To some degree, the best thing you can do is keep trying. Keep practicing and you’ll get better at restarting conversations when they slow.
However, you can also avoid these lulls by asking open-ended questions. If you ask yes/no questions, the other person can kill the conversation with a single word. If you ask an open-ended question, they have to give a lengthier, more detailed response.
Any one of those details is something you can focus on to continue the conversation. Ask a who/what/where/why/how question about their original answer and the person will likely give you even more details you can use to continue talking.
4. Focus on Being Assertive
Just like eye contact, assertiveness is something that people without great social skills usually struggle with.
To be clear, being assertive doesn’t mean being bossy or rude. It means being clear about what you want or what your ideas are.
If you don’t come off as assertive in your job interview, the employer may worry that extracting important information from you will be like pulling teeth – something no employer wants to deal with.
Instead, practice answering common interview questions in the most assertive way possible. This means giving your answer clearly, even when it means talking about yourself (e.g. “Why are you the best person for this job?”, “Where do you want to be in five years?”, etc.).
Once you land the role, you can practice being assertive by saying “no” to requests you know you’re allowed to turn down (e.g. “Can you work for me on Tuesday?”). Obviously, don’t say “no” when you really want to say “yes.”
This simple practice will build assertiveness as you realize that there are almost never consequences for politely turning down requests that fall outside the scope of your job (as determined by your boss, of course).
Another tip is to push yourself to answer questions with more than one sentence. If your boss asks you what you think about a certain situation, assert yourself by fully expressing your answer in as many words as it takes.
5. Don’t Forget to Smile
As we mentioned earlier, building your social skills will take practice. It will probably also involve conquering your nerves – at least at first.
Still, don’t let anxiety get the best of you. If you need a little break from practicing, take it. Just be sure you start up again.
Don’t forget to smile, either.
For one thing, smiling is actually very good for you. If social situations make you uncomfortable smiling can help you loosen up a bit.
Smiling also makes you look much more at ease and approachable. This is very important in a job interview, when confidence is vital.
Need Help Showing Off Your Social Skills at Your Job Interview?
Do you struggle with social situations?
Do you worry that this will hurt your chances to land a job?
If you become a student at IntelliTec College, our career services department can help you prepare for interviews and build your confidence before you ever sit down in front of an employer.
To learn more about becoming a student at IntelliTec College, contact us today.
Image Link: https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/lack-confidence-shy-young-handsome-man-330916964?src=thjnKbONzQoojfWkUA-E7g-1-61