The Most Important Soft Skills

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Soft skills may be harder to quantify on a resume than technical skills, but they’re no less important for job seekers. Technical skills are necessary to perform a job, but soft skills are essential when consumers have more than one competent provider to choose from. Consider your own preferences. Let’s say you have a choice between two physicians, both of whom have the medical knowledge they need to take care of you. One treats you with respect, while the other talks down to you and rushes you in and out of the office. Which one will get your business?

Employers are equally interested in soft skills. They prefer people who will be pleasant to work with and who will contribute to the team. There are many soft skills to master, but the following are among the most important:

– Professionalism. In one university survey, 75 percent of business leaders said “professionalism” was important. Professionalism can be difficult to define, but think of it as knowing how to behave in the workplace. Examples of being professional include getting to work on time, taking responsibility for your actions, adopting a helpful attitude, and dressing appropriately.

– Adaptability. Employers know that the work environment can change swiftly and seek people who have proven their ability to adapt to changes. Older workers are under the heaviest burden to show adaptability, as they often face the assumption that they won’t want to change the way they’ve done things in the past.

– Communication. Your communication needs will vary from one job to the next, but employers highly value people who can get their ideas across well, whether in conversation or in writing.

– Conflict management. Interpersonal conflicts are bound to come up during the course of your employment, and how you deal with them will impact your employer’s operations. Knowing how to navigate disagreements and find win-win situations makes you a more attractive job candidate.

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