What are soft skills?
Soft skills aren’t necessarily taught in school, but they’re important as they determine how well you work with others. Soft skills are uniquely human, and can’t really be defined using numbers or statistics. They will affect how you interact with people in the workplace, and this could be a make or break in the hiring process – especially if a company prioritises its culture. However, impressive soft skills can also help to strengthen your CV, which can never hurt.
Some examples of soft skills are communication skills, teamwork, creativity, and leadership. These are all qualities that employers value, and can be put to use when writing your CV. No matter how impressive your qualifications are on paper, if you can’t work well within a team or solve problems on the go, you may struggle to reach your full potential.
What’s the difference between hard skills and soft skills?
You’ve probably heard of both hard skills and soft skills, but may not be sure what differentiates the two. Put simply, hard skills are those that are gained through training and education, whilst soft skills can’t necessarily be learned outright.
Hard skills are things that anyone can learn with a certain level of training, such as computer skills or analytical skills. These are certainly important, especially when working in a specific industry or niche. They’re easily proven with qualifications and are usually answered with a yes or no question – e.g., whether or not you can code.
Soft skills, however, are difficult to prove with a certification. They’re more likely to be proven through your actions and behaviour, so employers may want to see you in action. Soft skills can help you in pretty much any situation, so they are very useful to develop in both your personal and professional life.
How to improve your soft skills
So, wondering how to improve your soft skills? This could be problem solving, communication, time management, and other skills that can improve your daily life. Read our best tips about how to improve your soft skills.
Ask for feedback
Asking for feedback lets you know which areas you may need to improve, which is a great place to start on improving your soft skills. Not only this, but the ability to respond to constructive criticism is a soft skill itself. By willingly finding out where others think you can improve, you will be off to a flying start with improving your soft skills.
Networking is a valuable opportunity to improve your communication skills, as well as the ability to build and maintain professional relationships. Attending networking events is a great way to push yourself out of your comfort zone and gain confidence. Don’t worry, we won’t send you in blind – read our 11 tips for effective networking.
Take a course
If you’re not sure how to improve your soft skills by yourself, there are courses that can help. Whether free or paid, online or in person, it might be worthwhile to take a course if you feel it would be beneficial. Depending on what you want to improve, some workplaces may recommend a tried and trusted course, or may pay for you to take one. It never hurts to ask!
Active listening helps you to effectively communicate with others, and will be a great help to your soft skills. When taking on a brief or discussing a task with a coworker, be sure to actually understand what’s being said. Sometimes, people with a lot on their plate may miss things or assume, leading to mistakes and miscommunication. So, it’s important to pay full attention to a conversation, and make the other person aware of this too.
Take on a leadership role
Any leadership role can teach valuable lessons, no matter how big or small. If you have the opportunity to take on an extra leadership role, even if it’s just in a team building activity, be sure to grasp it. This will give you the chance to build your confidence as a leader in a lower pressure environment.
Communication is vital in the workplace, but you can also improve it in your own time. Try to talk on the phone whenever possible, as this will improve your confidence when taking work calls. Phone a restaurant instead of booking online, or visit a shopping centre rather than an online shop. Communicate with others at every chance you get, and eventually you’ll have newfound confidence when speaking to anyone.
Find teamwork opportunities
Teamwork is a soft skill that comes with time, usually from practice and experience. You can’t read a book about teamwork and magically be great at it the next day. So, it’s important to engage with as many teamwork opportunities as possible, even if they may not be the most exciting. Try to find instances where yourself and others can work together to get lots of teamwork practice in. When working in a team, try to remain positive and be encouraging to everyone – this will keep your team motivated.
Get to know your colleagues
Nothing exposes poor soft skills like a frosty work relationship. You don’t have to be besties with your colleagues, but it helps to get to know them and show an interest in their lives. A workplace functions much better when everyone gets along and isn’t afraid to ask for help. A little small talk here and there can work wonders for the office environment, and can get you in your colleagues’ good books.
Soft skills are necessary for working in any field, from digital PR to PPC. Working on these skills could land you your dream position, and will help you to improve yourself both in and out of the workplace. If you would like to learn more about a career at a digital marketing agency, get in touch.
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