Hiring managers frequently have to choose between candidates of similar caliber and qualifications. That decision is most often made on “soft skills,” rather than the laundry list of relevant experience and specific job-related expertise, so it’s increasingly important to work on those elusive extra elements.
Here are the top 10.
Thought when you majored in Biology that your days of English papers and diagramming sentences were behind you? Think again. Writing skills are always important—even more so now, when so many positions are set up to work remotely and require extensive email or chat-based communication. You must be able to express yourself clearly and correctly and communicate effectively, or you’ll start losing out.
If you’re really in the woods, consider taking a writing course online or at a continuing education center. It can make all the difference down the road.
You can be great on paper, but still not know how to talk to people. Even if you’re not the client interface type, you’d be surprised how many hiring managers would prefer to hire someone who can communicate effectively face-to-face. Make sure listening is part of your communication process as well.
There’s a difference between self-esteem (or being assertive) and being a jerk. Once you figure out where that line is, confidence adds major sparkle factor and can end up netting you the job. Learn to project this kind of aura of success.
If you’re short on it—or shy—never fear. It isn’t a genetics-given gift; it can be built up slowly but surely. Fake it ‘til you make it!
Even if your new boss is a micromanager, chances are she still wants you to be able to manage yourself most of the time. This means managing your time effectively, self-starting, and maintaining optimum productivity. The more you can effectively manage your own time and showcase that you can, the better and more likely you are to get the job.
Networking might not ever be stated as a job requirement, but it’s a necessary skill for any job. Knowing how to work a room and charm people is a huge component of most successful career paths. Buff up your network and your networking skills; they can get you the job and set you up for anything that might come next.
Even if you’re a total dummy when it comes to technology, you have to work at it. Today’s market simply requires you to have some savvy with basic technology and software. There are tons of tutorials online. Brush up on the programs and communication tools your position would require before the interview. At very least, be an email wizard—prompt and precise.
This is the number one ineffable skill you’re supposed to learn in college. Your future boss needs to know that you not only follow orders, but you also are actively engaged in problem solving and strategic thinking. Creativity is key. And simple things—like the ability to look at a problem from every angle, or consider an opposite position—can go a long way, both in life and on the job.
You don’t just need negotiation skills for salary discussions. They come in very useful during conflict resolution and problem solving, as well. Do a bit of reading into how you can improve these skills.
No one cares how fancy your credentials are; if you can’t work well with the team, you’re not going to get the job. So check your ego at the door and learn to be a team player.
Pick a career wherein you feel you would fit the workplace culture, so you’re not constantly trying to fit yourself into an awkward box. Learn to give and take constructive criticism, how to collaborate, and how to build trust with other members of your team.
This goes hand-in-hand with teamwork. It’s just not possible to be socially or emotionally tone-deaf anymore. Sensitivity to the needs and feelings of your co-workers is a must. Learn to really listen and hear what people are saying. And be able to convert your knowledge into real empathy. You won’t just get a better job; you’ll be a better person.