“How can soft skills like collaboration, communication or curiosity help me grow my career?” This is a commonly met question among candidates, when assessing a soft skill. Well.. we have some good news and some bad news. The good news is strong soft skills, also known as power skills, common skills or core skills, are applicable to all professions. The bad news is we are not all born with them. Oh!.. did we forget to mention there is another good side to the story? Indeed there is.. because you can develop your soft skills list!
Here is what we will cover, in this article:
Collaboration: a must-have soft skill
Working in a collaborative manner is a capability highly appreciated by most employers. It is hard to identify a job where you will not be involved in working in a team or supporting a customer. That is why the ability to work together with other professionals is key in building the professional (and personal! 😉) relationships, and getting that job done.
Because you list a collaborative working style as your soft skill, you indicate to the interviewer that:
- you are capable to listen to other people’s opinions and assess them appropriately.
- contribution to other people’s work is important for you, you are proactive in sharing ideas and supporting task completion.
- cooperation soft skills when finding common solutions are demonstrated.
- your strong soft skills support a diverse and inclusive work environment.
- respective and professional manner thinking are “your bread”, and you like considering different points of view.
- you build long-lasting relationships.
Weighting your soft skills
Depending on the role you are considered for, an interviewer can assess this soft skill by asking a behavioral question. The question could circle around describing:
- successfully completing a project as a member of team.
- a situation when you helped to on-board a new colleague to the project team.
- a project you had to complete but you had to work with a difficult colleague.
Communication soft skills: let’s talk about them!
The ability to communicate effectively is a critical soft skill in roles requiring building and maintaining relationships. It is one of the most frequently looked for, by hiring managers as well.
In general, we can split communication soft skills into three categories:
- verbal communication or the spoken word.
- non-verbal communication, so the way we communicate via expressions and body language.
- written communication, which is the capability to express oneself in a written form.
When looking at assessing communication skills in the recruitment process, the recruiter will be interested in learning about your:
- ability to listen and understand the messages you receive.
- capability to present and share information and your perspective in a clear and concise manner.
- ability to assess and appropriately select the most suitable communication medium in a given situation. So! it is done in a written exchange via email, chat, or a face to face meeting or workshop.
- ensuring the engagement of the audience you are communicating with.
How to asses your communication soft skills?
As communication is a very broad soft skill to assess, it is worth putting a more specific communication capability in your resume. Why? Because it has to be adjusted to the role you are applying for. This could include the ability to influence others, presentation skills, public speaking or content creation.
Likewise, a recruiter can ask you a wide range of questions, depending on what soft skill they are trying to assess, for example:
- describing a time when you had to convince someone about your point of view.
- sharing an example of a situation when you had to manage a conflict within a team.
- a situation when you had to deal with an unhappy client.
- receiving unsatisfactory feedback you had to reflect on.
It is important to remember that effective communication is not a ‘one-way street’ with focus on expressing oneself. It’s the ability to share and receive information, speak and listen to your counterpart, a “give and take” opportunity from the relationships you are building.
Curiosity: why did it “kill the cat”?
Curiosity is an aptitude which is becoming more and more interesting for recruiters. In the fast-changing world and working environment which continuously looks for improvement, having a curious attitude can be a helpful mindset. By listing curiosity on your strong soft skills list, you indicate to the recruiter that:
- you have interest and willingness to learn.
- new ideas and creative solutions are your way of solving tough situations.
- you can challenge the status quo.
- improvement is the way of working.
- you are open to drive innovation.
Curiosity is also needed in start-up organizations or in companies going through a transformation. In example, being curious and solutioning for new creative ideas. This can be very beneficial in the environments focused on building and improving the existing products or processes but not only. For example, it can lead to creating new ones as well!
Should curiosity be on your strong soft skills list?
Of course it should! Curiosity is particularly important in jobs which require innovative thinking and challenging the status quo, for example developing new technologies. What if Steve Jobs lacked a soft skill like curiosity in exploring the possibility to have a phone, email and map in a single device? 😉
If an interviewer would like to assess your curiosity as a soft skill, they may ask you about three main things:
- your learnings form an unsuccessful project.
- a new way of working that you thought of and implemented.
- situations when you had to complete a project, but you didn’t receive much information about it.
Be prepared to have a few examples up your sleeve!
Simultaneously, keep in mind that not every job or company requires curiosity. It can happen that asking too many questions or challenging too many ways of working is counter productive. It can canter your attention on pieces which do not bring any value to the project, and reduce the overall productivity.
Proactivity: a soft skill that will help you land the job
Proactivity is one of the critical aptitudes and soft skill to put on resume. Employers need proactive individuals because they can see the potential issues ahead of time, and prevent them from happening.
Opposite to the proactive working style, is the reactive working style. This is characterized for example, by addressing a problem that already exists. While problem solving is an important soft skill to put on your resume, being proactive indicates multiple other capabilities, such as:
- planning and executing tasks in a timely manner, while taking the initiative to drive results.
- flagging concerns, anticipate and respond to the upcoming needs.
- engaging with other teams and work cross-functionally.
- ability to adapt to the changing tasks, workload and priorities.
- being able to pivot the working style and focus appropriately.
- you show interest in learning new skills and take up new tasks.
Should proactivity be on your soft skills list?
Proactivity is a soft skill helpful in start-up environments, for example. Also, it is helpful during transformations and while working on improvement projects in a well-established company. The ability to see and address the upcoming issues, and the drive to make things happen is a highly valued resume skill.
For example, in a recruitment process, your interviewer may ask a variety of questions assessing your proactivity:
- a situation when you identified a potential process or system issue, and addressed it ahead of time.
- when you managed a project and the project requirements changed half-way through.
- describe a time when you came up with an innovative way of working, or improvement in managing a task.
Even though multiple studies have show that proactivity is a big factor to individual and organizational success, there can be some negative pieces to it. Depending on the situational and environmental factors, proactive behaviors can lead to increased stress levels. For example, it can alter an individual or lower effectiveness of a team. Hence it is important to manage this soft skill appropriately.
Results driven: shut up and drive!
No matter the company and the job, each manager and team have to achieve specific goals and targets on a regular basis. For example, these targets could include serving a specific number of customers. Another example is recruiting a new employee within a given time frame, or ensuring that a product is manufactured and out on the market. Completing the tasks requires a good sense of urgency and drive for results. In consequence, it is an important asset to your soft skills list on your resume.
By evidencing that you are a result-driven individual, you indicate to the interviewer that:
- you have the ability to establish goals and be accountable for them.
- managing multiple tasks and projects is not a problem.
- you prioritize the critical assignments and have good organizational skills.
- delivering results on time and with appropriate quality is your way of working.
- your soft skills list indicates being able to address and solve the upcoming problems ahead of time.
Showcasing results-driven as a soft skill on your resume
- you can list strong soft skills like “drive-for-results” directly. These could include proactivity, curiosity, good planning and execution skills.
- alternatively, you can evidence your results by showcasing your achievements in the experience section of your CV. In example, you reached a 98% customer satisfaction rate in the first 6 months of employment. Another example is “successfully hired x amount of new employees in Q1”. How about “successfully led the production of additional 100 components of material goods”? These are all great examples!
With that in mind, an interviewer can ask you specific questions assessing this skill. Some questions you may receive could be:
- a situation when you had to manage multiple priorities at the same time, or within a tight deadline.
- an example of a situation when you went above and beyond the expected goal.
- when you realized you would not be able to complete all tasks in a timely manner, how did you manage the situation?
Have a close look at the job description of the role you are applying for. What if the responsibilities or requirements indicate a strong soft skills list that’s set on driving for results? Go ahead and think of times you had to work in such a manner. It will certainly increase your chances of landing the job!