Each company looks for a different mix of skills and experience depending on the business it's in. Yet it's no longer enough to be a functional expert. To complement these unique core competencies, there are certain "soft skills" every company looks for in a potential hire.
"Soft skills" refer to a cluster of personal qualities, habits, attitudes and social graces that make someone a good employee and compatible to work with. Companies value soft skills because research suggests and experience shows that they can be just as important an indicator of job performance as hard skills.
Today's service economy and the ascendance of work teams in large organizations puts a new premium on people skills and relationship-building," Portland-based human resources expert Lori Kocon says. "And with business being done at an increasingly fast pace, employers also want people who are agile, adaptable and creative at solving problems."
Kocon advises all job candidates -- especially those who aspire to managerial positions -- to get in touch with their soft sides. Some of the most common soft skills employers are looking for and will be assessing you on include:
Are you motivated and dedicated to getting the job done, no matter what? Will you be conscientious and do your best work?
-- Check out: Strong Work Ethic Path to Success [Quote Cards]
Are you optimistic and upbeat? Will you generate good energy and good will?
Are you both verbally articulate and a good listener? Can you make your case and express your needs in a way that builds bridges with colleagues, customers and vendors?
-- Good Communication: Pass It Around [Quote Cards]
Do you know how to prioritize tasks and work on a number of different projects at once? Will you use your time on the job wisely?
-- Practice Time Management [Quote Cards]
Are you resourceful and able to creatively solve problems that will inevitably arise? Will you take ownership of problems or leave them for someone else?
-- Thoughts on Critical Thinking [Quote Cards]
Will you work well in groups and teams? Will you be cooperative and take a leadership role when appropriate?
-- Don't Be Selfish: Pass on the Team Spirit [Quote Cards]
-- Check out: How I Learned: The Power of Teamwork
Do you truly believe you can do the job? Will you project a sense of calm and inspire confidence in others? Will you have the courage to ask questions that need to be asked and to freely contribute your ideas?
-- Self-Confidence Pick-Me-Ups [Quote Cards]
-- Check out: How I Learned: 4 Tips to Improve Your Self-Confidence
Will you be able to handle criticism? Are you coachable and open to learning and growing as a person and as a professional?
-- The Art of Receiving Criticism [Quote Cards]
Are you able to adapt to new situations and challenges? Will you embrace change and be open to new ideas?
-- Flex Your Mind: Be More Adaptable [Quote Cards]
-- Check out: How I Learned: Be Flexible, Adapt or Die
Can you handle the stress that accompanies deadlines and crises? Will you be able to do your best work and come through in a pinch?
-- Check out: Desk Rage: Completely Losing It at Work
When job-hunting, Kocon advises that you focus on the skills most likely to interest the prospective employer and learn to demonstrate these skills through your resume, in an interview or in dealing with potential employers at career fairs or industry association gatherings.
For example, tell a story of how you successfully handled a crisis or challenge at your company. Mention honors you received or even bring along letters of thanks or commendation from an employer or customer.
Remember, whether you are applying for a service position or a technical job, it's your combination of core and soft skills that will set you apart from the crowd!Next: