Doing the job might not be enough; it turns out how you do the job—and, more importantly, how you do the job alongside co-workers—might be just as important.
A 2016 Pew Research report found that “job categories with the highest growth tend to require higher social skills, analytic savvy and technical prowess.” Meanwhile, the number of jobs requiring “higher levels of manual or physical skills, such as machinery operation and physical labor, has changed relatively little,” reports Pew.
Social skills, defined by Pew as “interpersonal, communications or management skills,” also are known as “soft skills.” Joann Ingulli-Fattic, president of the Indiana human resources consulting firm Transcend3HR, offers examples of ways to enhance what she believes are three key workplace soft skills: communication, interpersonal and “perseverance with enthusiasm.”
- Practice active listening. Ask clarifying questions and paraphrase what the speaker has conveyed; take notes when appropriate; don’t interrupt. Maintain eye contact. Pay attention to body language—both yours and the speaker’s.
- Practice speaking in front of a mirror.
- Take time to improve your writing skills through careful editing and asking others to edit your work. When you’ve written something, read it out loud to catch mistakes you may have missed.
- Be genuine and respectful with others.
- Manage conflict in a healthy way. Practice displaying a positive attitude in difficult situations and staying calm in moments of crisis.
Perseverance with Enthusiasm
- Discipline yourself to finish tasks in a timely manner.
- Approach each task with a realistic sense of what it will take to accomplish, divide it into steps, then address each step with confidence.
- Show responsibility and enthusiasm for your assignment by striving to do the best and going the extra mile.
- Share your enthusiasm with others…it’s contagious.
Two simple interview prep steps
Getting to the interview stage in the job application process is exciting—and maybe a little nerve-wracking. How can you highlight your soft skills in an interview? Joann Ingulli-Fattic offers these tips:
- Research the company before the interview. During the interview, show your interest in the position by asking questions about the company and the job. This will show the interviewer how you convey ideas, how well you listen, and that you have done your homework.
- Write down examples of situations in which you have exhibited soft skills and practice telling your story. During the interview, find opportunities to share these examples. For example, if you’re asked to discuss your role on a team project, provide details of your role and how you interacted positively with other team members.