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What are Soft-Skills?

Photo courtesy of Unsplash
Photo courtesy of Unsplash

Understanding Soft-skills

Have you heard the term "soft-skill?" It is frequently used to describe skills that aren't job specific, rather are core transferable competencies that can be used in various settings. The dictionary definition of soft-skill is personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people.

Examples of soft-skills that are essential in the modern workforce include time management, customer service, emotional intelligence, leadership, sales, business writing, communication, and the list goes on.

Soft-skills are different from hard-skills in that they are more fluid and adaptive. A hard-skill is the actual job or profession. Let's put it this way, you may be a great at your actual job, but there may be times you have to present to a larger audience, will you be ready?

Soft-skills can be developed

Some people seem to be born with abilities like being able to speak in public or understanding accounting. Truth is all skills are learned, but mastery makes it seem like these skills are innate rather than learned. While many people have learned through hands-on job training, soft-skills can be learned in a classroom setting or online as well. In fact, there is never a downside to learning a new skill. There are tools and apps that make life easier, but every person that is the workforce must continue to improve and grow their skill-sets to remain valuable.

What are some steps you can take to develop your soft-skills?

  1. Create a list of skills you consider crucial in your industry. For example, project managers in the software industry need to communicate with stakeholders throughout the organization. If you are a project manager, then what kind of skills are sought after in your industry?

  2. Create an inventory of your existing soft-skills. If you know how to write well this would be a great skill to add to the top of your list. What if you know how to sell using social media?

  3. Compare the lists and identify skills that you may need to improve. Be honest, but don't be harsh. The purpose is to get a real perspective on what skills you need in order to advance in your career, not throw yourself a pity-party.

  4. One you learn a new skill, try to find ways to implement what you have learned.

  5. Don't forget to also polish up on existing skills. It may seem silly to learn more about a subject you already feel confident about, but there is no substitution for continued learning and development in gaining mastery of any given subject.

What is the most important soft-skill?

People often wonder what is the most important soft-skill they should develop. There is not a simple answer to this question. It almost always depends on the industry, position, and career trajectory for a person. According to a recent CNBC article however, the top 5 most sought after soft-skills are time management, adaptability, collaboration, persuasion, and creativity.

The most successful people continue to develop and grow through life-long learning. It is an investment in one's self that has no substitution. The skills can be gained through life lessons, on-the job training, or through formal courses. The most important soft-skill is not a solitary skill, rather a commitment to continued learning and development.


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