We’d all like to think that we could just know how to code and land our dream job, right? And while hiring managers are focused on finding applicants with the hard skills they’re looking for, that’s not all they want to see. In fact, as tech becomes increasingly global and wide-reaching, professionals must boast skills that go beyond basic requirements; employers want friendly, collaborative, and solution-focused professionals that bring additional value to the team apart from their education.
Why? Well, in this article we’ll dive into exactly what the main soft skills that employers want are, in addition to defining what soft skills are precisely, and why they’re such important elements of your resume.
What are Soft Skills?
The name may sound like it’s not that important, but don’t be fooled: soft skills are essential to your toolbox and ensuring you’re the best candidate for a role. Soft skills are the non-technical skills that you bring to the table that relate to how you work and not specifically the duties you have; soft skills are not job-specific like hard skills are and instead impact how you work, not what you do at work.
Hard skills, on the other hand, are those you’ve learned formally, such as coding, a specific programming language, or how to use Figma. Unlike soft skills, however, hard skills are viewed as teachable skills that you could learn on your own or through some sort of education; if you lack a specific hard skill during the interview process, some employers will take a chance on you and choose to teach you that specific skill themselves.
The acquisition of soft skills is more complicated than that of hard skills and that’s why proven soft skills are so important to hiring managers during the interview process. They know that they can teach you how to use a specific program; however, they don’t know they can teach you to be a team player.
Why are soft skills important?
You’ve probably had that one co-worker who is clearly quite skilled at their job, but nearly impossible to work with on a personal level. Or a teacher that knows their stuff, but isn’t capable of clearly transmitting their knowledge to the class. These are both great examples of professionals that have the hard skills needed to do their job on paper, but lack the personal soft skills that are so necessary.
Soft skills are important because they:
Improve your ability to work well with others, which eliminates the risk of inter-department problems. If you’re a freelancer or self-employed, soft skills can help you attract and maintain clients.
Show that you’re capable of facing challenges and adversity in the right way.
Help further your career through bettering relationships with your colleagues and clients.
Enhance the personal aspect of your work life, making your professional hours more enjoyable, productive, and peaceful.
How can you learn soft skills?
Now that we’ve convinced you of the value that soft skills bring to the table, let’s dive into the next step: adding them to your resume. As we mentioned, soft skills are not as easy to learn as hard skills, but that doesn’t mean you can’t work on them over time. To learn soft skills, we recommend following these steps:
Think about which skills would be best for your professional development: it would be nice to have every soft skill known to man on your CV, but it’s probably impossible to actually make that happen. To decide where you want to focus your efforts, think about the areas in which you think you could improve, past feedback you’ve received, and what truly interests you.
Be open to suggestions: sometimes you may not be able to see where you need to improve, especially if it’s an area that you can’t see from the outside. Asking for feedback from trusted supervisors or colleagues can help you get a better idea of where to focus your efforts.
Get uncomfortable with being uncomfortable: reflecting on your soft skills and areas of improvement can be tough, but it’s important to remember it’s a regular part of growing both personally and professionally.
Find ways to learn: there are lots of ways to improve your soft skills and online courses might be a great way to learn basic principles that you can start putting into practice. You can also choose to work with a colleague or boss over time with periodic check-ins to evaluate your progress or ask someone who has this skill mastered to help you or take on a leadership role.
Reflect on your progress: as time goes on and you’ve had time to further develop your soft skills, make time for reflection. Have you noticed any changes? Any challenges? Is there anything you still need to work on? These periodic reflections can help you measure your progress and see what’s left to do.
Which Soft Skills Should I Learn?
There are a lot of soft skills out there, but a great place to start is with these three: communication, leadership, and teamwork. Let’s dive into each so that you’ll be ready to add them to your repertoire in no time.
Communication is one of the most important soft skills and is an absolutely necessary skill to master if you want to reach success in both your professional and personal lives. It’s also one of the most challenging skills to learn, due to the normal frustrations and problems that arise. To improve your communication skills, try:
Thinking twice before you say or type something: your words have effects and taking the time to review what you want to say to eliminate any coldness or shortness and instead be polite can help you avoid problems at the workplace.
Learning about body language: body language speaks quite heavily and taking the time to research body language and what different facial expressions and poses suggest can help you avoid uncomfortable situations and ensure you’re properly understood.
To grow in your career, you’ll need your higher-ups to see you as a potential leader and without leadership skills, you’ll have a hard time landing that next raise or promotion. If you’re concerned about your leadership skills, try:
Working with your supervisors to develop specific skills: the skills needed to be a leader are quite varied and you might have some already and just need to finetune the others. Set up a meeting with your boss to go over what you’re currently lacking and what you can work on in the future.
Research leadership qualities: there are tons of different leadership styles and the right one for you depends on your personality and career path; take the time to research various options and educate yourself on what being a leader is all about.
No one wants a colleague that’s impossible to work with and being known for your abilities to work well with others in diverse situations will help further your career exponentially. To improve your teamwork skills, try:
Focusing on the outcome: clashing personalities is a given and there will always be a person you don’t mesh well with–that’s totally fine. When you’re in a position where your patience is challenged, try to focus on the end goal and what truly matters, not the office politics.
Learning about conflict resolution: as we mentioned above, conflicts are inevitable. The key is knowing how to solve those issues and ensuring all team members feel like valued and necessary members of the whole project and a skill that future supervisors will appreciate.
Soft skills are an essential part of the professional world and simply can’t be left behind. Your future as a tech professional will rely on your entire arsenal of skills, not just what programming languages you know. And at Ironhack, we’re fully aware of this and use our Career Services to figure out exactly where your strengths lie, bringing them to the forefront of your candidacy.
If you’re ready to get started and take your first steps toward a future in tech, it’s time to take the acquisition of soft skills seriously and build a resume that will blow hiring managers away. And we’re here to help you with just that. We’ll see you in class!