Soft Skills? What are those? Why do we need them? Why are they so important and spoken about so frequently? When thinking of job qualifications most people think first about the hard skills required and if they match those hard skills. For those who are unfamiliar with hard skills, those are the technical skill sets, and abilities to perform certain functional tasks. Although hard skills are extremely important to have, and will probably help you land an interview, soft skills are what’s going to help you land the job. It does not matter what your job is, what your title is, or how much you make you are going to have to work with people. If people don’t like you this will make your job harder, and make it harder for you to find work in the future. This is a problem many technical people run into, they are so focused on the technical aspect of their work and nothing else, this results in them being called difficult to work with. What many technical people lack, or do not use enough is their soft skills! Some people have been able to define soft skills as various behaviors that help people work and socialize well with others, good manners and personality traits needed to get along with others and build positive relationships.
So pretty much if you don’t have soft skills, in the long run, you are done for. But don’t worry soft skills like all other skills can be learned and practiced in order to get better at it. Since soft skills are personal characteristics that allow us to relate to others, let’s talk a little about what could be a soft skill. Soft skills hold various personality traits such as optimism with a combination of abilities that can be applied or practiced such as empathy. Have you ever worked with someone who was always positive and always willing to lend a hand when anyone was in need? Well, that guy has and is using his soft skills. By using his skills he’s building stronger work relationships, making the workplace more productive, and he’s maximizing his career prospects. While you’re focusing only on your technical skills, your soft skills are eroding. But fear not, we have a few soft skills that our book has deemed some of the most important for “geeks” to learn. The first soft skill is the ability to listen for what is important to people. This is a crucial soft skill for geeks especially because geeks tend to go into specifics a lot. Especially when talking about the technology they go on and on about it. If they apply this soft skill they can pinpoint what is important to their client or boss, and be able to provide information or assistance on what they want specifically. Ways to practice this skill would be having conversations with people and actively listening as well as asking questions to clarify for yourself what is actually being said. The next skill I think is very important that the book talks about is restoring trust. Being able to mend what is broken after a bad transaction or interaction with a client or coworker is a very delicate skill. One that many people do not possess. When working in any field trust is very important and often holds businesses afloat. This is a tougher soft skill to practice but the best advice on this one is to deal with the issue head on and letting them know you have it under control, identify the problem, handle the feelings, get the facts straight, and finally handling the problem.
Soft skills are essential in this day and age. There are thousands of people out there qualified for a job that you may want. They might have gone through the same training as you and dedicated the same amount of hours perfecting their craft. When you both step into that office for your interview only one of you will be walking away with that job. The fact of the matter is that whoever possess better or more soft skills will be walking away with it. Next time you find yourself stuck or not advancing in your career, or not getting the job you want, take a moment to analyze if you possess soft skills, if not it may be what is holding you back from achieving your goal.