What are soft skills? What is the buzz around soft skills? Why is professional success becoming so synonymous with soft skills in contemporary times? Indeed the term, soft skills is becoming a buzzword in the modern era whether for students or professionals.
For jobs, careers and even university admissions in the modern era, you will indeed be assessed on the basis of your soft skills. In fact, even if you are going to run your own business in the future, soft skills will be crucial.
Let us talk about the present state of competition. We must all agree with the fact that the world we dwell in is becoming increasingly competitive each day. Irrespective of the profession you may be aiming for, there is upbeat competition everywhere.
Even if you are applying to the top universities for higher education, the competition is unbelievable. So, what is the edge that you should look to develop to navigate the cutthroat competition? How can you ensure that as a student or a candidate applying for a job, your resume stands out?
It is a given fact that many others are likely to have the same qualifications as you do. Similarly, they may also have an internship or job shadowing experience as you may have. What is it that makes you an obvious choice in such scenarios?
The answer to the above question lies in soft skills. The more comprehensive and diverse your soft skills are the more likely you are to succeed in your professional endeavors. Soft skills facilitate jobs and careers in the most inclusive way.
Soft Skills: The Differentiating Factor
Forbes reveals that almost 90 % of employers state, most candidates get rejected as they lack key soft skills. This validates the importance of soft skills in the context of modern-day professional success. Soft skills are more in demand than ever before. Of course, that does not take anything away from the importance of hard skills or technical skills. Besides, it is vital to understand that soft skills are essential for growth across every industry.
However, it is vital the understand the context why soft skills are important. Let’s try to understand this via a simple example. Two people may have the same degree in let’s say computer science engineering from IVY League schools.
Both of them may carry extensive and similar knowledge of technical details and internship experience. So, if both of them compete for one opening at an MNC, soft skills will be the ultimate tiebreaker.
One of them may have great communication and interpersonal skills using which he or she can express their knowledge confidently. On the contrary, the other candidate may not be among the best of communicators. So, by default, the former candidate becomes the obvious choice. Here, proficient communication is only one of the essential soft skills examples.
If you are a student, the sooner you start in the direction of developing core soft skills, the better it is. You need to understand that the top universities and colleges are looking for students with impressive overall personalities.
Needless to say, when we talk about overall personalities, soft skills have to be at the forefront. So, soft skills enhancement should be a key dimension of your profile building endeavor. The more impressive the profile the higher the chances of making it to the top universities. In fact, if you are thinking of pursuing higher education in abroad, a great profile puts a strong contention. Moreover, you may also stand a very high chance of attaining handsome study abroad scholarships.
But what is it that soft skills are exactly about? Which soft skills in particular are the most vital for professional success? Let’s find out!
What are soft skills?
In the simplest of words, soft skills can be defined as an individual’s interpersonal skills. These are the personality traits that explain an individual’s character. From a workplace perspective, an employee’s soft skills will determine how well the individual interacts with others. It will define the employee’s efficiency to collaborate, lead and communicate in the workplace.
A few common examples of the most talked about soft skills include effective communication, collaboration skills, adaptability and problem-solving. Also, creativity, situational awareness, leadership skills, emotional intelligence and decision-making are desired soft skills.
The greater the number of soft skills you have the higher the prospects of success across all spheres. Especially from the viewpoint of professionalism, soft skills are now indispensable for success.
However, what are the top 5 soft skills needed for academic and career success? What are the soft skills examples that matter the most? Let us find out.
What are the top 5 soft skills?
- Proficiency in Communication
Great communicators go on to become great leaders in the workplace. This is a fact that can certainly not be denied. On any given day, your professional success will depend on how well you can communicate ideas, convey issues and understand instructions. In fact, the need for you to be an efficient communicator increases as you rise through the ranks.
A leader is expected to be an impeccable communicator. Great leaders keep their teams motivated and effective via consistent passage of information. Also, they take the initiative to keep the team communication conducive and efficient at all times.
Having said that, if your idea of professional success is to claim leadership roles, it may seem undoable without communication excellence.
- Effective Decision-Making
The margin for error in the professional world is too small. We can say the same for students as well in the context of their academic journeys. A hasty or emotional decision can undo years of hard work. Having said that, your skills with respect to decision-making are very critical to your success.
In fact, decision-making skills may be looked at as an umbrella term for a culmination of soft skills. Effective decision-making will require a great sense of situational awareness, active listening, attention to detail and an analytical outlook towards things. Moreover, it will also require a high degree of emotional intelligence to make the right decision in time. Well, before you start wondering what emotional intelligence is, let me tell you that it is the very next skill on my list.
- Emotional Intelligence
Is your decision to pursue your higher education in abroad a well-thought decision? Or is it simply an emotional one because your best friend too is going abroad? How did you decide your study abroad destination? Was it more of a practical thought or again an emotional decision?
Otherwise, if you are a working professional, how did you decide your career path? Is it a concrete path or much inspired by your emotions? How well do you take care of your emotions daily in the workplace? Of course, all of us face emotional dilemmas all the time and it may seem overwhelming mostly. However, to navigate the emotions and think rationally is a skill everyone must aim for.
The real question is, can there be a skill to manage emotions positively and not let them come in the way of your success? Can there be a way around emotions? Well, yes and the answer is emotional intelligence.
Your emotional intelligence or EQ is defined as your ability to control and manage your emotions to drive positive outcomes. In fact, people with EQ do not only manage their emotions well but also assist others in doing so.
For sure, emotional intelligence has become one of the most indispensable skills for leaders and managers. Moreover, let me tell you a few astonishing facts about the importance of EQ in the workplace. As per Vantage Circle, 90 percent of top performers in the corporate world have above-average EQ.
To add, people with high EQ are known to earn USD 29000 more on average than those with low or no EQ. Lastly, it is also surprising to learn that EQ can account for as much as 58 percent of your job performance. Clearly, EQ is a soft skill that gives your career wings of advancement quite literally.
- Creativity and Problem-Solving Skills
You may be a great coder or an absolutely fantastic architect. However, can you respond to crisis situations with great confidence and find a way around problems rather than sulking? If you are someone who can fix problems in real-time and keep bringing innovation to the table, you are an asset. Any organization would love to have such an asset on their side!
Effective and decisive problem solving again requires high EQ, situational awareness, the ability to adapt quickly, and resilience to challenges. Moreover, it requires the creative intellect to find creative solutions to complex problems.
All in all, whenever there will be a discussion on soft skills examples, creativity and problem-solving will definitely feature.
- Conflict Resolution
Soft skills also encompass your ability to navigate conflicts in the workplace that may be holding back your or your team’s productivity. When you rise to senior positions, you will be faced with conflicts among your team members quite often.
As a leader, you will need to display efficient conflict-resolution skills. It will ensure that you keep your team on the same page and get the best out of them.
Even as an individual, you should be able to resolve your conflicts with your team members and contribute positively to the team.
To summarize, soft skills can be looked at as great facilitators of professional success They are equally important if not more when compared to hard skills. Yes, the hard skills versus soft skills debate will go on forever. But to my understanding, soft skills will always have a slight edge. So, be it for jobs, careers, admissions or study abroad scholarships, soft skills will be the ultimate key. Your resume should brag about your soft skills!