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The more things change, the more they stay the same. As certain jobs become obsolete, while robots and artificial intelligence seize others, there’s still nothing that can replace solid soft skills.
According to data from Monster.com, some of the top soft skills most frequently required in job listings by employers in 2017 were oral and written communication skills, self-starting/self-motivating, problem-solving and troubleshooting, integrity and working independently.
Here’s a closer look at these skills and how you can shine a spotlight on them during your next interview.
Oral and Written Communication Skills
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These skills, along with the ability to get along well with others, are often the determining factors of why a candidate is hired over others. It’s the secret sauce, the one thing that can put you ahead of other candidates. Employers require these skills for excellent reasons.
Sure, you can always mention them in the executive summary of your resume, but this is one instance, with many others below as well, where a “show, don’t tell” scenario works best.
You can state you possess excellent written communication skills, but if your emails to recruiters are ridden with errors as well as inappropriate, unprofessional text-message-like content, it could be game over before it even begins. Be impeccable with your communication during a job search.
This includes your oral communication. If you’re feeling a little rusty, brush up with mock interviews (friends and family can help with this) and look to participate in a few professional networking organizations to get your small talk skills up to par. Taking these extra steps makes a big difference and will help better prepare you for your next interview and beyond.
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Who wants to hire someone who lacks enthusiasm or struggles with self-motivating? Employers are looking for hunger, an insatiable appetite for you to demonstrate a “can do” attitude, someone who is engaged in and with their work and possesses the ability to proactively run with something from start to finish. This doesn’t mean you can’t ask questions along the way, but showing the initiative to want to do more and take on greater responsibility is very appealing.
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As you prepare to ace your interview, think about an example to share when you were self-motivated – perhaps you took the initiative to learn a new computer program that made not only your job easier but helped increase productivity in the office in general. Share your enthusiasm around this both in your tone of voice and body language.
It’s OK to authentically show you’re passionate! (Don’t force it though because that can come across, too. Just remember it’s OK to geek out a little but don’t go overboard.
Problem-solving and Troubleshooting
If you’re a boss, chances are the last thing you want to do is micromanage. The best-case scenario, assuming problems will arise from time to time, involves self-starter direct reports who approach you with not only the problem but the solution, too (especially if it needs budget approvals).
And even if you’re not a boss, chances are your own manager doesn’t want you to approach him or her with daily issues that may constantly arise.
Show you can take the ball and run with it, even when you encounter potential obstacles. Express a time when this occurred and most importantly, highlight how you overcame it. What was the problem and what was your solution? Outline the setbacks and the outcome.
It’s critical to have a sense of integrity and maintain strong ethics. The fact that employers are specifically indicating this in their job postings is a very good sign, especially for job seekers looking for a spot-on cultural match and who value employers who do the same.
A critical component for you to make the most out of the interviewing experience is to interview the company as much as they’re interviewing you. Do they seem to possess integrity and ethics?
During your interview, allude to a time when perhaps you witnessed something that may have crossed the line of ethics with another colleague and show how you flexed your “integrity muscle” to handle the situation appropriately. Interviewers want to know the situation, what happened and more importantly, how you dealt with it.
As more employers see the value in providing a flexible work culture, allowing employees to work outside of the office (as long as the job gets done), it’s important for companies to know their people can and will work well on their own and be as productive out of the office as they are in the office.
Whether you’ve owned your own business or not, show your entrepreneurial side. This means highlight your ability to stay on task and keep projects moving efficiently regardless of your presence in the office – detail how you’re able to stay connected and not miss a beat.
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