Workers solving a technical problem on a computerfizkes /

This story originally appeared on DollarSprout.

Just imagine: you've been looking through job advertisements for weeks looking for the perfect fit. The next one you call is exactly what you are capable of.

The "hard skills" – the details of getting the job done – aren't the only skills employers look for, however. Soft skills are just as important.

“Soft skills highlight your interpersonal skills, problem solving, conflict resolution, and adaptability,” says Renee Frey, recruiting expert, speaker, and author of “I Hate Mondays: A Guide to Getting Out of Bed”. ”

According to Frey, "employers look for soft skills because they want to know how you behave in certain situations and whether your personality fits into their corporate culture."

That means you need more than a great resume to get your dream job. You also need to provide evidence of the soft skills employers are looking for.

Employers know you may not have all of the soft skills on this list, says Yvonne Rivera, director of talent acquisition at Nonprofit HR. "Rockstar candidates who can bring any of these skills to any situation are few and far between," she added.

However, having the right soft skills for the job can be the deciding factor between you and another candidate. During an interview, be prepared to provide real-world examples of how you've demonstrated some of these traits in the workplace.

If you are returning to the workforce or have never had a job, you may have learned these skills in everyday life, at school or through volunteer opportunities, and you can also pass these experiences on in an interview.

1. Independence

Man working remotely on the computer at nightJelena Zelen /

Independent employees do not need constant guidance from managers. You can take a project and run it with it and only check in when needed. Many managers prefer to work independently because it gives them more time for other tasks.

"Your boss needs to trust that the important project you have delegated is not only getting done but is being carried out well," said Anna Huffman, director of human resources for the National Federation of Independent Business.

While you should try to solve problems yourself, it's just as important to know when to update your manager on your progress or get feedback on what to do next. Scheduling regular check-ins can be helpful. You can do this through daily emails, weekly meetings, or a monthly report.

2. Adaptability

Essential workerG-Stock Studio /

Adaptable employees are flexible and can adapt to change with a positive attitude. Many workers are practicing this skill amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"There is no playbook for dealing with a pandemic," said Dana Case, director of operations at With no notice, with pets, children, and other distractions, employees had to switch from home to work-from-home schedules, communicate fully online, and do the little bits of work.

Some employees made the change seamlessly while others took a crash course to develop this skill. In an interview, you may be asked how you would react in a situation that requires adaptability. Be ready to explain the steps you would take or share a previous experience.

3. Coaching ability

Older workersirtravelalot /

On the first day of a new job, employees should have around 70% of the skills required for that position, Frey says. "It allows someone to grow in the role."

For this reason, coaching skills are an important personality trait of every employee. Employees capable of coaching can implement feedback and are ready to learn missing skills. "Putting them together with a mentor is a great exercise in helping them grow in the role," she adds.

To demonstrate your coaching ability in an interview, give an example of how you have learned from a mistake in the past and grown both professionally and personally. You can discuss how you implemented feedback, were receptive to criticism, or otherwise made adjustments.

4. Trust

Woman working from home happilyF8 Studio /

Confident employees know what they can do, understand their worth and exude self-confidence. Trust is a top skill employers look for because confident workers tend to be productive and motivate others.

"Despite all the knowledge you may have, without trust you will not be taken as seriously as you should," says Huffman.

Confidence in your ability to do your job well is a trait that has built up over time. Setting (and enforcing) goals, learning new skills, and investing your energy in tasks you love are small but powerful confidence boosters.

5. Emotional intelligence

Worker sits at a computerRido /

In recent years, employers have begun prioritizing a worker's EQ (emotional quotient) over their IQ (intelligence quotient), says Huffman.

Employees with a high EQ show self-confidence, independence, motivation, empathy and social skills. Employers want to know that you can think through challenges logically and respond in a crisis or in everyday situations, says Rivera.

As you prepare for your next interview, prepare for stories that show your EQ. This can include how you work with coworkers, implement feedback from managers, and help clients solve problems while keeping your calm head.

6. Leadership

Older workerdotshock /

Hiring managers look for strong leadership qualities – such as trust, passion, and initiative – even when the candidate is not applying for a leadership or management role. An interview is a good place to share your leadership experiences and how you can use those skills in your new role.

Employers want to know they can hand you a project on the first day or ask you to lead a small team. “Employees who raise their hands on projects or lead teams really support their managers,” says Frey. "With leadership skills, you can take the stance and help others to rise as leaders in your team."

If you feel you need to strengthen your leadership skills, consider taking a course or training. You can even ask your current manager for additional tasks, such as: B. training a new employee or leading a meeting or project.

7. Time management

Employees at workMonkey Business Images /

On any given work day, you're likely juggling a list of competing priorities. Time management helps you get these things done on time.

"Candidates need to describe how they are managing their time well in order to complete all of their assignments," says Rivera. "Strong organizational skills are also included."

Here are some ways to improve your time management:

  • Plan your week and block the time for critical tasks.
  • Take all day to review and reply to messages.
  • Track and limit the time spent on each task. Apps like RescueTime and Toggl can help.
  • Give yourself regular breaks for quick mental refreshment.

If you're still having trouble managing time, ask your manager or coworker for feedback. You may receive advice on implementing a different system, or your manager may reduce your workload (or extend your deadlines) until you show improvement.

8. Ingenuity

Employee brainstormingFlamingo Images /

"Ingenuity" means using creativity to solve problems. Employees who show ingenuity can spot a challenge, approach it positively, and find a solution.

"Creativity is more in demand than ever," says Huffman. "Employers want employees who can imagine what doesn't exist and find a way to do it."

Ingenuity may not come naturally to you, but it is something you can grow and develop. In your work, look for ways to streamline processes, solve problems, and bring ideas to meetings. This is a great way to demonstrate your confidence and independence.

9. Responsiveness

Employees Employees Employees to the power of fiveFlamingo Images /

Have you ever sent an email and never received a response? You may have felt ignored or even thought the recipient was disorganized.

Responsiveness or just immediate follow-up is an important part of job hunting and one of the top skills employers look for. Productivity experts recommend allowing small periods of time throughout the day to answer emails and prioritize tasks.

“It's another important skill when we're working from home,” Case says. “Check in with your team regularly. Don't fall off the grid and don't write back at times when you cannot be reached. "

A good rule of thumb: if it takes 10 minutes or less, reply to the message immediately. Less urgent responses can wait up to 24 hours. If you can't give a thoughtful answer right now, touch base and let them know when you can follow up.

10. Exceed expectations

Happy workerAntonio Guillem /

This is where you can stand out from your competitors. You may be assigned new and exciting projects as you go beyond your responsibilities, which will help you grow in your career.

"Candidates, who are often viewed as cliché and describe how they not only do their jobs, but in a spirit of high quality customer service, show consideration and thoughtfulness," says Rivera.

At work, “going the extra mile” generally means showing initiative and helping because you know it will benefit the entire team. You can volunteer to lead projects, mentor a colleague, or stay late to meet a deadline. Be ready to share these examples in an interview.

11. Big picture thinking

Warehouse workers talk at a deskMonkey Business Images /

While you are likely to focus on specific tasks and results at work, it is also important to keep an eye on the bigger picture. This means looking beyond your responsibilities and understanding how your work is affecting other departments and the organization as a whole.

“Employers want to know that candidates can see and explain big ideas, and that they can get others to develop these steps to achieve monumental goals,” says Rivera.

What are your company's goals and what can you do to help the company achieve those goals? Take some time to think about your role in your company and how you can help it grow and thrive. Then use this information to guide your daily activities and decisions.

Use your interview to show that you have the skills employers are looking for

Older workerpolkadot_photo /

An interview is your time to shine. As you prepare, think about times when you have used the skills on this list. When did you find a creative solution to a problem, resolve a conflict at work, or show leadership in a difficult situation?

While you may not already have all of these skills, you can "hone the skills you already have and then focus on developing skills in areas where you want to learn more," says Case.

There are plenty of books, podcasts, and courses available that can help you learn the basics or improve many of these skills. Time and experience on the job can help, along with guidance from a great manager. Frey also recommends keeping a journal of how you have dealt with a particular situation and how your approach could improve.

Every job requires tough skills, but as Huffman reminds us, "Success comes from adapting and learning to use both."

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, sometimes we get compensation for clicking links in our stories.


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