Education will help you acquire ‘hard skills’—the technical abilities needed to perform your job—but, increasingly, employers are looking for more than that.
‘Soft skills’, also referred to as ‘employability skills’, are those that are completely transferable between industries and occupations. They include things like team work, problem solving and emotional judgement—skills integral to a productive and collaborative working environment.
This is according to new data from recruitment website, Jobs.ie.
Soft skills only grow in importance as employees rise up the ranks and take on broader, managerial roles, and as work is increasingly automated by machinery and artificial intelligence.
It’s clear that soft skills are a key differentiator in the workplace. So what are the most sought-after soft skills and how do you show that you have them? Christopher Paye, General Manager at Jobs.ie shares his advice:
“Displaying motivation starts with your cover letter and CV,” said Mr Paye. “A cover letter stands out when it’s personalised and relevant. Providing insight into the organisation and demonstrating how your skills match its needs, show that you go beyond box-ticking and make the extra effort to succeed.”
Employees can carry this into their interview by researching the people who interview them and demonstrating knowledge of their interests and responsibilities. Connecting on a personal level shows that you are interested in the people you will work with and indicates that you will be a good fit for the team.
“Showing flexibility is best accomplished during the interview stage of the application process. Give examples from your career and personal life which show your ability to adapt, like how you took on tasks outside of your core responsibilities, how you pushed aside routine work to respond to an emerging problem, or how you moved cities to pursue a new career,” said Mr Paye.
If an employer values flexibility, they are more likely to grant latitude in how you approach and execute your work. Therefore, emphasising flexibility at the interview stage can help you get, not just any job, but the right job for you.
3. Attention to detail
“This is an easy one: make sure your CV is perfect. No typos, nothing irrelevant to the role you’re applying for, and no inappropriate email addresses. Personally speaking, even if a candidate has an impressive CV, I’ll usually bin it if I spot spelling mistakes. If they make mistakes on a job application, what kind of mistakes will they make in their day-to-day work?”.
If you claim attention to detail as a strength on your CV and fail to demonstrate as much in the very same document, you have undermined your credibility.
“Volunteering is a great way of demonstrating drive. It gives you relevant experience and can sometimes count towards training qualifications. It’s a win-win”.
Volunteering can help improve services in your local community while also demonstrating your interest in, and engagement with, your desired line of work.
“Friendliness might seem like more of a character trait than a skill but, in a work environment, it can be learned,” said Mr Paye. “The key to friendliness is respect: it means active listening, an open attitude, and making an effort to connect with people. Also, saying please and thank you might never get you a job but not saying them might lose you one!”