It is a catch 22 situation that until you have got experience, how are you supposed to show your skillset to prospective employers in order to get that experience?
Until you have work experience and have been able to gain ‘hard’ skills you will really need to make the most of your ‘soft’ skills. Showing you have relevant transferable skills and demonstrating how these skills could be applied in the workplace is vital to your application when in competition for entry-level job roles.
Soft skills will continue to be important throughout your career as these are what are likely to set you apart from your counterparts. With the increasing rise in automation, these skills are likely to become more important as interpersonal skills cannot be replaced by automation.
A workplace learning report published in 2018 found that 57% of Senior Leaders thought that soft skills were more important than hard skills.
The top 5 surveyed most in demand soft skills identified for 2020 as listed in this blog post by LinkedIn were:
- Leadership (Persuasion)
- People Skills (Collaboration)
- Emotional Intelligence
So, let’s break down each of these skills with some suggestions on how you could present them and show your ability to prospective employers.
Think of a time when you have come up with a new, inventive idea or found a solution to a difficult problem. This could come from a hobby, sport you play or work experience. Being able to think outside the box and display creativity is important in many jobs.
It is no good having a great product or idea if no-one listens to you, so being persuasive is a fantastic skill to have. Being able to take the lead in situations and support others will also be vital in many roles so showing an example of where you were able to do this is important. You may have gained leadership experience through volunteering, hobbies, clubs, or academic projects? Have you been captain of a team, organized a quiz, lead a group trip/holiday? Think about the experiences you have had and how you can apply leadership skills to these.
People Skills (Collaboration)
Being able to communicate well and work well as part of a team is important in most roles. The supportive relationships that you build at work are what makes it a great place to be and leads to greater success for the business. Think of an example where you have collaborated with others to get the best out of an idea or situation, possibly in an academic or previous work setting. You may also have examples from team sports. People skills will be particularly important to demonstrate if applying for sales or customer support roles.
The last year has shown just how important this skill is. Showing you are able to adapt and respond quickly to changes is vital to many companies if they are to remain agile. Companies will want to know that you are flexible and eager to learn. A good example may be that the strategy/processes for assessing your student learning changed but you responded positively and adapted quickly to the new system?
Emotional Intelligence was new to the top 5 last year and is becoming increasingly important to employers. There are many ways emotional intelligence can be measured but it can be very subjective. Many identify it as a mix of self-awareness, social skills, empathy and motivation. One way of demonstrating this during your job application could be by talking about a mistake you have made and how you handled it. It may seem counter intuitive to highlight a mistake but everyone makes them and what an employer wants to know is that you are able to recognise mistakes and learn from them.