A common grievance of interviewees who have failed to make the cut is that they consider themselves as having performed well in the technical rounds of the hiring process. They knew the answers to the most complicated of technical questions, yet, were all at sea over where they went wrong. Candidates often forget that mere technical knowledge is inadequate to crack an interview. In the ever-evolving job market, soft skills help one stand out from the competition.
Recent hiring trends suggest that employers are more focused on the abilities of employees to communicate, work in teams, be accountable for one’s own work, amongst other key soft skills. These skills remain relevant through all job profiles, regardless of the stature or industry.
Soft skills are key to building relations, gaining visibility and creating opportunities. An employee who can communicate their problems, empathise with fellow colleagues and has no issues when working within large groups, tends to move up the corporate ladder faster. Soft skills are necessary for networking and showcasing one’s calibre to progress to the next level in the company.
Soft skills can be taught to an individual, but is not an easy concept to fathom, unlike the hard skills. It is something that is enhanced over a period of time and cannot be defined within a framework nor can it fit a straightjacket, unlike the hard skills.
Regardless of the industry one belongs to, or one’s field of expertise, one requires soft skills to sustain and succeed in the job market.
So what are the soft skills that are most critical, yet crucial to building a successful career in the 21st century?
Communication skills are the most crucial skills that are required to sustain oneself in today’s market. Having technical skills won’t count till one has the ability to project it well and advertise it to his employers. Employers look for candidates who are not only well educated and are intellectually efficient, but for candidates who have a good grasp over the language, can channel their thoughts well and know how to communicate their ideas to the larger audience. Delivering the message in the right way can make a lot of difference and people who know how to do it always stay ahead in the game.
The ability to recognise and manage one’s emotions and understand others emotions is imperative when working with a diverse group of people. Emotional intelligence allows for employees to judge situations that need to be handled with care, and act accordingly. Employees with higher emotional intelligence are more sociable and can work in large teams amicably.
Leadership is not just about being a team lead, rather it is a trait of taking ownership. A fresher too may have leadership skills, or taking ownership for their work. Employers often engage candidates in group activities to observe how the candidates fit into leadership roles. The one who is authoritative in managing the team, lead the team by example and get the work done by assigning individuals of the team into different job roles are the ones who are most likely to be selected. That being said, employers also watch out for candidates who are being dominating around others. Such behavior is inadmissible.
The world is transforming at a rapid pace. The dynamics are changing at a tremendous pace. Being prepared is the key to tackling challenges, handling transitions or adjusting to novel circumstances and business requirements.
Be it something as small as a seat reshuffle or a huge company pivot or mergers and acquisitions, it is important to accept the changes as an inevitable fact in the constantly-changing and evolving world of business.
Irrespective of the role, it is very rare for a person to work alone, meaning, one must communicate well, actively participate in conversations and respect perspectives. The ability to get along with fellow colleagues and work with others, is quality we all have been developing and fine-tuning, unknowingly since childhood. From playing with blocks at playschool, to making school projects with classmates, from playing sports with neighbors, to performing with fellow group members, we have actually been preparing ourselves for a lifetime of workplace collaboration.
These skills go a long way in ensuring the professional success of an individual which often influences his/her personal life too. Building these skills stands a person in good stead in the face of various kinds challenges that life eventually unfurls.
Authored by Gopal Devanahalli, CEO, MeritTrac, India’s largest private testing and assessment company.