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5 Soft Skills to Improve Your Career

If you want to make an impact and create influence at work, you need one important thing: soft skills. Leaders and managers want to hire people with soft skills (aka people skills)! But even if you feel like your soft skills aren’t up to snuff, there’s good news! You can learn to master your soft skills and grow in your career and work relationships. The list of soft skills employers look for is pretty long, but for now, let’s focus on the top five so you can boost your value at work and even put yourself on the road to a promotion.

What Are Soft Skills?

So, first things first. What are soft skills? Soft skills are personal traits and interpersonal skills (sometimes known as emotional intelligence or EQ) that make up the way you interact with your team. Soft skills are a combination of how you use your personality traits, communication skills, listening abilities and other behaviors to engage with people. In a workplace, soft skills come into play when you interact with your boss, coworkers and customers.

Why are soft skills so important? Because they show hiring managers how you engage with other people. They give leaders an idea of your strengths as a team player in addition to your hard skills, which focus on technical job abilities and work-related responsibilities, like accounting, writing, project management or computer skills.

And while some of us are born with stronger people skills than others, we can all learn how to master these abilities. (For example, if you’re a little stubborn when it comes to receiving constructive criticism, you can learn how to be more coachable.)

Why Are Soft Skills Important?

Soft skills are important because they give people an idea of how you’ll fit into the social mix at work, and they tell others what kind of team player you are. And when you think about everyone in the company, their combined people skills contribute to the culture of the whole team.

When you’ve got strong soft skills, you build trust, give others a hand, and show that you can improve and take direction. And as a result, you’re more likely to create a positive influence on those around you. These are all behaviors that contribute to healthy work relationships—rather than a hostile work environment—and can even help you get a promotion. By strengthening your soft skills, you’ll set yourself up for plenty of opportunity to build strong relationships and advance in your career.

List of Soft Skill Examples

So, what are some specific soft skills employers value at work? I’ve identified a list of the top five soft skills leaders and hiring managers are looking for. These traits are must-haves if you want to be well-liked and appreciated at work. Remember, if any of these traits don’t come easily to you, that’s all right. You can learn how to sharpen these soft skills to create a winning personal brand and be more effective at work. Here are the top soft skills examples you’ll want to focus on first:

  1. Likeable: Being likeable means you’re the kind of person people want to be around. One way to hone this skill is to ask other people more questions. You can learn more about people and find more opportunities to connect with them, serve them, and support them. Likeability also means you can show empathy and compassion.
  2. Coachable: Being coachable means you receive instruction and correction well. You know getting feedback on a project or presentation isn’t a personal criticism, but is meant to help you grow. Being coachable means you have a humble spirit when you receive (and then apply) feedback from others.
  3. Adaptable: Can you handle change with a good attitude? That’s what being adaptable is all about. I’m not talking about being Pollyanna positive. Change can be a pain when it’s not something we choose. But you can decide to be an adult and get through it with maturity and open-mindedness. To be more adaptable, embrace when change is thrust upon you. Take the leap to do something new and hard.
  4. Honorable: I could also call this integrity. Being honorable isn’t just doing the right thing. It’s also treating people with dignity, not crossing lines with coworkers, and not cheating your company.
  5. Reliable: Can people count on you? Will you show up and do what you say you’re going to do? That’s what it means to be reliable. You put yourself in situations where people can count on you, and then you deliver.

How Can You Sharpen Your Soft Skills?

Maybe you feel pretty confident in your soft skills already. That’s great. But if some of your soft skills need a little sharpening, you can read books, listen to coaching podcasts, watch YouTube videos, or find a mentor at work who’s strong in the skills you want to develop. And most importantly, you need to believe you can change and improve, and then practice what you learn. Even if you feel some anxiety about breaking out of your comfort zone to hone these skills, believe me . . . improving in these areas will pay off in ways you can’t even imagine.

Land a New Job With Your Soft Skills

Now that you’ve learned which soft skills are your strongest and which might need some tuning up, it’s time to work on your resumé. My free Resumé Guide will help you create a unique resumé that’ll grab the hiring manager’s attention, land an interview that gets you one step closer to your dream job, and put you on the path to professional growth. Download it for free today.

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Ken Coleman

About the author

Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman is a career expert and author of the national bestselling book From Paycheck to Purpose and the #1 national bestseller The Proximity Principle. He hosts The Ken Coleman Show, a nationally syndicated, caller-driven show that helps listeners discover what they were born to do. Ken makes regular appearances on Fox News, and he co-hosts The Ramsey Show, the second-largest talk show in the nation. Through his speaking, broadcasting and syndicated columns, Ken gives people expert career advice, providing strategic steps to grow professionally, land their dream job, and get promoted.  Learn More.

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