Woman looking at computer screenSoft skills play an important role in an employer's hiring decisions and can give an employer an idea of how you may work well on their team. Learn more about soft skills in the workplace and how to identify the soft skills you have.

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What's So Important About Soft Skills?

Jun 18, 2019

Woman looking at computer screenAs far back as 100 years ago, researchers found that 85% of job success came from having well-developed soft skills. Things haven't changed much since then. Even with the advances in technology and changes in the types of jobs available today, employers are still looking for people who have these essential skills. In the coming weeks, we'll be writing about specific soft skills and how to acquire and polish them. But to start off, let's talk about what soft skills are and why employers look for them.

First: What are soft skills?

In a nutshell, soft skills are the "people" skills that characterize how a person interacts with other people — either one-on-one or in team settings. For example, being able to communicate — both to understand and to be understood — is a soft skill. By contrast, hard skills are learned and are usually job-specific, such as coding for an information technology job or cooking as a chef.

In addition to communication, soft skills include such things as teamwork, networking, problem solving and professionalism. Another important soft skill is attitude, specifically a positive one. You know how you feel when you're with friendly, respectful and enthusiastic people. Well, employers want those kind of people, too.

Why do employers care about soft skills?

No matter what kind of work a company or organization performs, they have customers, shareholders, vendors, clients or employees with whom they must have good relationships to stay in business. It makes sense then, for employers to hire people who can help them build and maintain those relationships.

Employers, of course, want people who can perform the technical parts of a job. For example, no one wants to hire a bad coder for a coding job. But if the coder can't work with the website administrator, that part of the business can fail and affect the customers who want to place orders. People who work in customer service are the front line for many companies. Understanding what the customer needs (listening), figuring out how to solve their issue (problem solving) and letting them know how you can help them (communicating) are all soft skills.

How do you show employers that you have soft skills?

It turns out that soft skills are not that easy to teach, so employers want job candidates who already have the skills that will make them successful in the job.

How do you know if you have these skills? This will take some self-reflection. Take some time to think about the types of tasks and responsibilities at which you excel. Are you good at making others happy by finding solutions to problems? Are you good at explaining complicated ideas to others? Do you enjoy creating new ways to stay organized?

You don't have to answer these questions alone! A Ticket to Work Service Provider can help you identify the soft skills you have, brush up on them and find ways to strengthen others. You can also reach out to family members, friends and any past coworkers to discover characteristics about yourself that you might not recognize on your own.

Then, when you're ready to apply for a job, you can use your application, resume and cover letter to your advantage by choosing words like some of those skills mentioned above that most closely fit your own skill set and relate to the job. However, it's more than just using the right words. For example, when you describe yourself as a problem solver, include an example of a problem you solved in a previous job or another part of your life and how you did it.

The same technique can be used in an interview. Keep those soft skills in mind and be prepared to explain how you used them. Often, using the STAR method of answering an interview question can help illustrate your soft skills and how you've used them in other jobs and experiences.

Learn More

To learn more about the Ticket program, call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. Ask a representative to send you a list of service providers or find providers on your own with the Ticket program Find Help tool.

Learn More

To learn more about the Ticket program, call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 or 1-866-833-2967  (TTY) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. Ask a representative to send you a list of service providers or find providers on your own with the Ticket program Find Help tool.

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