Soft Skills Six-Pack for Graduates
With economies around the world rebounding unevenly from last year’s pandemic-induced recession, the job market for recent graduates is filled with both opportunity and uncertainty.
While some areas, especially retail, have bounced back with great robustness, other sectors such as travel and media remain affected by COVID-19 caused economic constraints.
To give yourself the best chance to win an available role with minimal experience, job seekers need to demonstrate more than just the ‘hard’ technical skills that they have acquired through their tertiary study or training. They also need to show personal motivation and interest in the roles and organisations they hope to work for.
An essential ingredient for success is to show that you possess soft skills – the self-organisation and interpersonal abilities that equip you to contribute fully to a team, a workplace or an organisation.
Despite the name, ‘soft’ skills make a demonstrable difference in an individual’s performance in the workplace, resulting in higher job satisfaction, better work relationships and greater productivity.
To make sure you are fully equipped, ensure that your ‘Soft Skills Six-Pack’ contains:
- Emotional Intelligence
- Problem Solving and Critical Thinking
- Grit and Resilience
Like technical skills, soft skills can be both taught and learned but they require greater personal investment from the individual on the intellectual, emotional and self-management levels.
The first step to developing these skills is to understand what they are and how they can benefit you. The second step is knowing that no matter how developed these skills are – they are skills that can constantly be refined and developed throughout your life.
Essential Soft Skill #1: Adaptability
Adaptability describes your ability to learn new skills and behaviours rapidly in response to changed circumstances. Employers look for this in new recruits because it is essential to growth within a role.
When you demonstrate adaptability in the workplace, you show you are flexible and have the ability to respond effectively to work demands, even when things don’t go to plan. Adaptability also usually means you work well on your own and as a team member.
In leadership roles, adaptability is necessary to respond to unusual situations that typically come without instructions – like the COVID-19 pandemic. Within days leaders in every industry had to adapt quickly to new circumstances in order to ensure their teams and their businesses survived.
An adaptable manager has to solve problems in a charged environment, backing their own judgement on difficult decisions, without relying on precedents alone for an answer.
Essential Soft Skill #2: Communication
Whether you’re a newbie or a boss, Communication is of utmost importance in the workplace. Yet communication is a tricky soft skill to master because, while it seems self-evident, it operates in multiple dimensions such as speaking, listening, writing, presenting and especially, non-verbal communication.
These diverse skills are in play every day in the workplace, so you need to make sure your active communication is clear, consistent and compelling while you exercise ‘passive’ communication skills, such as actively listening and your exterior, body language with conscious attention.
Essential Soft Skill #3: Emotional Intelligence
An associated but quite distinct soft skill is Emotional Intelligence – also referred to as Emotional Quotient (EQ). EQ describes your ability to recognise, use and manage your own emotions in positive ways to communicate effectively, build empathy, reduce stress, defuse conflict and overcome challenges with your colleagues and customers.
While communication is about the messages exchanged between people, emotional intelligence is more about the ability to ‘read’ how that communication is affecting another person.
Essential Soft Skill #4: Teamwork
Each of these first three soft skills lays the foundation for effective Teamwork, which describes the ability of a group of individuals collaboratively to achieve a common goal or project efficiently and effectively – often beyond what they could do as individuals.
True teams really do deliver outcomes that are greater than the sum of their parts. To play your best role in a team, you need to be flexible, communicate well and ‘read’ other members of your team. It isn’t essential that you like everyone in your team – but it is essential for you to show respect to your team members.
Essential Soft Skill #5: Problem Solving and Critical Thinking
You also need to focus on achieving outcomes through Problem Solving and Critical Thinking. This describes the ability to integrate knowledge, experience and data to solve problems effectively. While you may not have an immediate answer to these problems, you need to think on your feet, analyse problems and identify solutions.
Managers greatly prefer their employees to come to them with solutions rather than just problems. Identifying areas that need improvement and a well thought out suggestion for an improvement is an excellent way to show your proactive interest in the organisation or team you work in.
Essential Soft Skill #6: Grit and Resilience
The final item in your Soft Skills Six-Pack are Grit and Resilience, which are two sides of the same coin. Grit is the ability to focus your intention and energy toward achieving long-term goals, even when you struggle, falter, or temporarily fail, whereas resilience describes your ability to bounce back from those struggles and the courage to continue to try again.
These Soft Skills are learnable, interconnected and extremely useful tools that equip you to stand out when you apply for a job and to establish yourself after you win the position. Furthermore, they can always be improved and strengthened as you develop as a person and a professional.
We invite you to complete our free CCI Soft Skills on-line self-assessment, which will provide you with a confidential, personalised report that catalogues your soft skills.
About Michael Boyd
Michael Boyd is the Founder and Director of Career Crossroads International, (CCI) an Australian based organisation working across the globe that uses more than 20 years of talent management experience and expertise to bring people and business together. Our unique, personal, approach forms lasting strategic partnerships with our clients to deliver a bespoke talent management service that always exceeds expectations.
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