Soft skills cannot be taught, but your career could count on them.
You may or may not have heard the term ‘soft skills’ by now, but it’s certain that there was no course in these at your school. Soft skills cannot be taught, but your career could count on them. Lucky for you, you will have some of these abilities anyway. And you will need to know how to use your unique set of these in your career. You will also need to know how to promote your skills in an interview situation.
Employers are looking for graduates who can handle themselves in a work environment, and while you might not have on-the-job experience to rely on, you will be able to use examples from your daily life to showcase your abilities.Here are some of the top soft skills most desired by employers, and how to ensure you make the most of the ones you have:
If you’ve helped in any way to manage an event at school or university, or been part of a fund raising drive or even a class outing, then you can use this to demonstrate your organisation skills. If all else fails, mention how you helped plan your sister’s wedding or even how you managed to balance your study timetable with a part time job – after all, we know how tough that can be to organise!
If you’ve played sport at school or uni, then you’ve got this one waxed. Okay, it does have to be a TEAM sport, so don’t mention your shotput or long jump abilities. You don’t have to have been captain of the team either (that’s more of a leadership ability). Tell your interviewer about the time your team won a game thanks to your pep talk at half time, and you’ll be setting yourself up for a call back.
As excellent as your Whatsapp skills might be, communication here refers to effectively sending and receiving relevant messages. In the workplace you will need to be able to properly comprehend and interpret what is expected of you, and in turn to coherently communicate the outcomes of your tasks to your manager. When you are not certain of an aspect, you need to be able to ask for help. Demonstrate your communication skills by following the employers instructions for the interview (where and when – arrive on time!) and by speaking clearly and confidently throughout the meeting. Go ahead and mention your spree as high school debate team champion too!
No, mentioning your weekly yoga class won’t help you with this one. And being easy-going isn’t the same as being flexible, so don’t think that saying you’re up for anything will get you the job. Flexibility means that you’re able to accept unpredictable situations, respond appropriately and be prepared to deviate from the usual routine when called for.
Arriving at the interview isn’t enough to demonstrate your motivation – after all, maybe your mom got you up and dressed and dropped you at the office this morning? Hmm… if that’s the case maybe this job isn’t for you! If you truly are self motivated then you’ll have plenty of examples for the interviewer. Mention all the mountains you’ve climbed, obstacles you’ve overcome and goals you’ve achieved due to your tenacity and motivation and you’ll be sure to impress.
So you made it to the interview on time, looking good and prepared. Great! But can you do that 5 days a week, for the rest of your working life? Proving you’re dependable can be difficult, but if you’ve consistently arrived at every lecture on time, submitted all your assignments by the due date and still made it to tea with grandma every Sunday for the last 5 years then you’re probably more dependable than most.
Other soft skills include the ability to work well under pressure, have a positive attitude and a strong work ethic and have a certain level of self confidence. Be prepared to show that you own these soft skills and you’ll be ready to ace any interview.
Want more advice about interviews? Check out our top tips for graduates and school leavers ready to start their careers...