Expert advice from Michael Page

Why soft skills really matter

3rd May 2019, 1:40 pm

In a competitive job market, it can be difficult to land your dream role. Here at Michael Page, we advise that to succeed in your interview, you should be effectively showcasing your personal skill set. When doing this, it’s easy to focus solely on your qualifications, training, and technical experience, but interviewers are equally interested in soft and transferrable skills.

Understanding soft and hard skills

Hard skills, which are often referred to as technical skills, are the skills that you’ve learned and developed throughout your life. Perhaps on the job, at school or university, or through external training schemes. For example, having proficiency in a specific piece of software such as Adobe Photoshop, fluency in a foreign language or certification from a professional body. These skills will allow you to meet the basic criteria of a given position.

Soft skills, which are often referred to as people skills or interpersonal skills, speak more to your personality and the way you behave towards other people. For example, empathy, patience, problem-solving, displaying good communication and time management.

How important are soft skills to employers?

The vast majority of people applying for any role, should possess the basic hard skills to perform that role effectively. If necessary, hard skills can be taught; it’s simply a matter of time (and sometimes finances). Candidates with the necessary soft skills to make them a perfect cultural fit, are much harder to find. Soft skills are highly valued by employers, because they demonstrate your ability to fit seamlessly into a different working environment and collaborate effectively with your new colleagues. Make no mistake, they can be a real game changer at the interview stage.

Which soft skills are most valuable?

It’s true that different employers will naturally favour different soft skills. However, these are the current top three soft skills for a candidate to possess:

1. Problem-solving
2. Adaptability
3. Time management

How to demonstrate your soft skills at interview

Michael Page recommends that ahead of your interview, take the time to identify three or four scenarios in which your soft skills have helped you overcome challenges in your working career. Talk about them, because recruiters want to hear you support your claims with real-life examples and instances in which you’ve clearly demonstrated the soft skill in question.

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