At times you believe you are the smartest person in the room. You did an excellent job in different roles you’re assigned to, yet you find yourself unable to work well with others. At the same time, your fellow colleague is excellent at leading meetings, managing his time spotlessly, while being able to accommodate the needs of the rest of the team members. You start to wonder what you did wrong. Apparently, while you’ve acquired knowledge through intensive education, the latter exhibited by your colleague isn’t really taught in a classroom or can be measured on paper. They are called professional soft skills and they are more important to your job search and professional career than you think.
In an era where the global workforce is shifting to a fast-paced and digitally inclined environment, research suggests that soft skills have mattered more than ever. In fact, about 91% of organizations are still keeping up, and 80% of these are being challenged to find the right soft skills from candidates in the ever-demanding job market.
What are Professional Soft Skills?
Professional soft skills are intangible, unlike hard skills which are more easily quantifiable. We’ve provided an example earlier; your colleague who leaves everyone smiling. Some other professional soft skills are emotional intelligence, leadership, and analytical thinking.
The second-largest challenge for recruiters and headhunters is finding enough employees that have equipped themselves with both soft and hard skills, according to a recent survey by Nonprofit HR. Most of the time, hard skills such as technical knowledge are the ones commonly emphasized in job applications. It’s often forgotten that professional soft skills are game-changers and needed more than ever, especially now that we’re entering the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
They are ‘human connection’ that help facilitate building relationships, gaining visibility, and creating more opportunities for advancement in the organization. What’s difficult is that it can’t be taught in school but can definitely be developed through personal development courses such as professional career coaching.
Even when you are best at what you do, if you lack soft skills, you’re throwing many opportunities out of the window.
Hard skills vs soft skills
As an intelligent recruitment solution, we know that professional soft skills, especially in the impact sector are more difficult to measure and quantify than hard skills. Hard skills are measurable. They are reports you submit when your supervisor asks you and your technical skills in solving inevitable problems.
Hard skills are the foundation of your job when applying and those that can underpin your success throughout your stay in the organization. It is a skill set required for a job and specific expertise necessary for talent to perform daily tasks.
Soft skills, on the other hand, are your ‘personal touch’ with others in the organization, also known as “people skills”. This is how you interact effectively with your colleagues, supervisors, and everyone who is working in the organization.
When applying for a job in the impact sector, the ‘human touch’ and skillful interaction are the attractive qualities to succeed in the field. According to Oxford HR, entry-level requirements in the impact sectors include professional soft skills, like passion and commitment to the cause, beyond the usual hard skills academic training, strong administrative skills, and relevant work experience. After all, you are joining a sector that needs the human side of you.
Are hard skills relevant today?
Hard skills are still important in professional life. They are still critical to your job search and to your career success. They are acquired through years in formal education, certifications through various training programs, online classes, and even internships.
Knowledge in online marketing, branding experience, social media is also one of the hard skills that recruitment is looking for. Other examples of hard skills are web design, data entry, finance, mathematics, legal, finance and control, and other quantifiable skills.
In the impact sector, grant writing and exemplary written communication skills are still top-of-the-line most sought after by organizations. According to Patty Hampton, Vice President and Managing Partner at Nonprofit HR, “As more non-profits compete for foundation dollars, it is critical that people have skills to write and manage grants.”
Truly, it’s an underrated skill. A lot of organizations today are realizing the importance of professional soft skills in the workforce. It’s never enough to be just good at your technical skills. It’s important to develop people and relationship-building skills that would help you be able to work harmoniously and effectively with your fellow colleagues. It does require a lot of effort in improving your professional soft skills. The key to it is consistency and the results are more worth it than you think.
Professional career coaching is one way to help you hone your soft skills. Identifying your blindspot or weakest link could help you work on improving it. Great coaching could ultimately help you unlock those professional soft skills you would need to be successful in your career.