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Soft skills – its a hard-core necessity

 

 Jobs need hard skills, experience, but also attitudinal and personal attributes that enhance the work environment

You may have the qualifications and even the experience needed to perform the work, however if you don’t possess the hard-core “soft skills”, that is, a strong work ethic, an ability to get on with others and a high level of emotional intelligence, your success in any role could be greatly diminished.

In 2002, the Business Council of Australia and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry produced the Employ-ability Skills for the Future report in consultation with other peak employer bodies.  The report identified  key, generic employ-ability skills that individuals should have along with relevant job-specific and/or technical skills. They are:

  1. Communication
  2. Teamwork
  3. Problem solving
  4. Initiative and enterprise
  5. Planning and organising
  6. Self-management
  7. Learning & Technology

 

  1. Communication

Developing your communication skills can help all aspects of your life, from your professional life to social gatherings and everything in between.  The ability to communicate information accurately, clearly and as intended, is a vital life skill and something that should not be overlooked.  It’s never too late to improve your communication skills and by doing so improve your quality of life. Professionally, if you are applying for jobs or looking for a promotion with your current employer, you will almost certainly need to demonstrate good communication skills. For example, the ability to:

  • present appropriately to a wide variety of audiences
  • demonstrate a varied vocabulary and tailor language to suit your audience
  • listen effectively and when required, present ideas appropriately,
  • write clearly, concisely with the reader in mind
  • perform well in a team, showing initiative and common sense as well as respecting others

Many of these are essential skills that employers seek. As your career progresses, the importance of communication skills increases; the ability to speak, listen, question and write with clarity and conciseness are essential for most managers and leaders.

 

  1. Teamwork

Getting on with others; understanding how others as well as you, can contribute positively to the team effort is a most important aspect of any role. The ability to work effectively with others on a common task; taking actions which respect the needs and contributions of others; contributing to, and accepting the consensus; negotiating a win-win solution to achieve are all aspects of a great team member.

Behavioural indicators include:-

  • Building and Maintaining Relationships
  • Give and receive feedback from peers or other team members in order to perform the task and improve outcomes
  • Share credit for good ideas with others.
  • Acknowledge others’ skill, experience, creativity, and contributions.
  • Listen to,  and acknowledge the feelings, concerns, opinions, and ideas of others.
  • Expand on the ideas of a peer or team member.
  • State personal opinions and areas of disagreement tactfully.
  • Listen patiently to others in conflict situations.
  • Define problems in a non-threatening manner.
  • Support group decisions even if not in total agreement.
  • Achieving the task
  • Give and seek input from others (in formulating plans for recommendations).
  • Assist others in solving problems and achieving own goals.
  • Share information, ideas, and suggestions.
  • Ask for help in identifying and achieving goals and solving problems.
  • Check for agreement, and gain commitment to shared goals.
  • Notify others of changes or problems in a timely manner.
  • Make procedural suggestions to encourage progress towards goals.
  • Check for understanding.
  • Negotiate to achieve a “win-win” outcome.

Do you have These Skills?

You’ll need to be able to prove to employers that you actually have the skills they want for the job. In applications and interviews they will ask ‘competency questions’ or ask for ‘capability statements’ that begin with phrases such as ‘tell me a time when …………. ‘ or ‘give me an example of ………….. ‘ Your answers will be the evidence that you have what it takes.

To find out how well developed your skills are already you could try this simple exercise:

Rate yourself on each of the behaviours:

  • 1 = I do this very well. I am consistent and successful in it
  • 2 = I am good at this. With some practice I can make it perfect!
  • 3 = I am getting better, but still need to work on this a bit more.
  • 4 = I am not particularly good at this – yet!

Revisit this exercise several times – you’ll want to have as many skills as possible at 1 and 2 before you apply for graduate jobs.

And, think about all the life situations you’ve been in – university, work, leisure, travel, social – and identify incidents and examples from them that show that you have already used the skill.

  1. Problem Solving

Even when it isn’t specified in the job description, many employers will look at your problem solving skills at various different stages of the application process. This could be anything from psychometric tests to group activities or one-to-one interviews.

Problem solving is all about using logic, as well as imagination, to make sense of your situation and come up with an intelligent solution. It is connected to a number of other skills:

  • A Level head and resilience in assessing a situation, and reassessing it if you fail the first time
  • Analytical skills, creativity and logical thinking to reach a solution

4. Initiative and enterprise

Are you able to see innovative ways of doing things? do you have experience in  seizing opportunities, and taking initiative?  It may involve a newer way of looking at a situation or the addition of a new idea to improve or streamline an existing process. You’ve developed your initiative and enterprise skills if you’ve taken on leadership roles or practiced a better way of doing things.

Skills in initiative and enterprise are demonstrated by:

  • adapting to new situations
  • developing a strategic or long-term vision
  • identifying opportunities not obvious to others
  • translating ideas into action
  • generating a range of options
  • initiating innovative solutions

5. Planning and organising

This involves the ability to identify what is required in a given situation and to manage people and resources effectively to achieve results.  It also involves being able to manage time efficiently and priorities what tasks need to be done to achieve an overall goal.

You’ve planned and organized when you decided what courses to take at University, devised a study schedule for exam time, or managed work and school commitments simultaneously.

Examples of Planning and Organizing include:

  • managing time and priorities
  • establishing clear project goals and deliverables
  • allocating people and other resources to tasks
  • multi- deadline and time management
  • collecting, analysing and organising information

6. Self-management

This skill refers to the ability to take responsibility for your own actions and life direction, and to set goals and successfully achieve them.  It involves setting achievable goals and using your time and resources effectively to achieve them.

If you’ve worked independently on a project, thought about your career goals and researched how to achieve them, or used a diary to plan your semester, you’ve demonstrated self management skills.

Self Management skills are demonstrated by:

  • planning ahead and having a personal vision and goals
  • evaluating and monitoring one’s own performance
  • taking responsibility
  • articulating ideas and vision

 7. Learning and Technology

Maintaining currency by keeping abreast of new technology and applying it to problems, as well as the ability to embrace life-long learning in the field of technology.

Skills in using technology are demonstrated by:

  • having a range of basic IT skills
  • willingness to acquire new IT skills
  • selecting the appropriate technology for a given task

Learning refers to your ability to manage your own learning and contribute to ongoing improvement and expansion in your own knowledge and skill set.  This also refers to your ability to learn workplace skills and expectations specific to your organization.

If you actively seek to learn new things in lectures, have taken courses to develop specific hobbies or skills or have successfully fit into a new work environment, you’ve used your lifelong learning skills.

Skills in lifelong learning are demonstrated by:

  • being open to new ideas and techniques
  • contributing to the learning community at the workplace
  • actively seeking a range of mediums to learn– mentoring, peer support, workshops or networking
  • having enthusiasm for ongoing learning
  • being willing to learn in any setting; on and off the job
  • being prepared to invest time and effort into learning new skills

What soft skills do you possess? what ones do you think you need to fine-tune?   You can never learn too much! If you need help identifying your soft skills along with responding to a job application that requires you to outline your experiences.. Phone Ivana on 0404056278

Ivana Agapiou resume writer