Build Your Soft Skills to Be a Valued Employee

An acquaintance recently told our sales trainer, Megan, that she was an extrovert. Megan replied, “No, but I’ve worked very hard to learn to act like one! I’m actually recharged more by alone time, which is the definition of an introvert. But years ago, when I started out in the work force, I had no experience dealing with business people. As a receptionist, I had to start learning how have conversations and managing work relationships.”

Developing Your Soft Skills

What she began developing was her soft skills, something that every candidate or employee needs to have in order to function fully in the workplace. It’s not enough to know the technical aspects of your job–you need to build your soft skills to be a valued employee, an in-demand candidate, or a leader eligible for a promotion.

Two Soft Skills Your Boss Wants You to Have

A new survey shows that your boss agrees, especially if you’re in the technical field. When more than 2,500 CIOs were asked, “In which one of the following areas would you say today’s technology professionals could use the most improvement?” 28% responded that they’d like their IT professionals to have better written, interpersonal, and face-to-face communication skills. 21% also wished their IT workers had better problem-solving skills.

These same CIOs were also asked, “Which one of the following skill sets or abilities is most important for technology professionals who want to advance their careers?” Their responses were similar, with 26% saying problem-solving skills are needed, while 25% felt that communication skills are very important.

Action Steps to Build Your Soft Skills

How can you improve your communication skills? The best way is to practice by putting yourself in situations where you need to converse informally, and even speak publicly. Taking a public speaking class or joining a networking group would be a great way to start. Speaking in front of a mirror is also a great way to practice making eye contact with others and using people-friendly body language. And whenever you write an email or report, always proofread and spell-check it before you press “send”!

Problem-solving skills can also be developed. I’ve learned from experience that one way is to hang around with other creative thinkers–it’ll stretch your own mind. Lifehack.org suggests you start by focusing on the solution, not the problem, and being open-minded enough to entertain all solutions, no matter how wacky. View problems neutrally, rather than as scary things, and try to look at the issue in a new way. Use language such as “What if…” or “Imagine if…” to open yourself to new possibilities, and simplify rather than generalize the problem. (Read Lifehack’s full article here.)

More Soft Skills That Benefit You

Other soft skills are just as important. Here are a few more from Strayer University that you may want to think about as well:
  1. Teamwork
  2. Ability to accept and learn from all criticism
  3. Motivate and keep a positive attitude
  4. Multi-task effectively
  5. Be adaptable
  6. Learn to listen
  7. Sense of humor

Today’s employers are making it clear: Having technical ability in today’s labor force is not enough.  You must build your soft skills to be a valued employee with a full array of abilities. The good news is, when you develop your communication and problem-solving skills, as well as all the others listed, you’ll discover an additional benefit. Soft skills help you manage your personal relationships as well. Trying out these tips to improve your soft skills could enhance every aspect of your life!

Candidates, we have employers all over the United States who are looking for top professionals with well-rounded skills. If we don’t have the most current version of your resume, click here to post it, and visit our job board while you’re at it! You or a friend might be a good fit for one of our open positions.

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