By Erin Lau, Insperity
In years past, job candidates with the right industry skills, knowledge and training had a significant chance of being hired. That may not be the case anymore. Increasingly, organizations are focusing on the level of “soft skills,” possessed by applicants. These skills include emotional intelligence, which is the ability to recognize one’s own emotions and also the emotions of others. Another soft skill in high demand these days is the ability to set goals on a personal level and then create a system for reaching those goals.
Many businesses are so intent on hiring candidates with well-developed soft skills that they are revising the hiring process, complete with new interview questions aimed at better assessing the level of soft skills that each candidate possesses.
Here are the five critical soft skill areas that job candidates will likely need to develop in order to land a job in the months and years ahead:
Self-awareness and self-management skills
Increased collaboration has been an office trend for some time now. Many employees are expected to work with teams, sometimes several teams. This evolution is also reflected in the transformation of office design. Currently, the majority of American workplaces have an open-office layout. In order to successfully navigate today’s highly collaborative workplace, employees should have a deeper understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses. They also need to possess the ability to identify how their actions impact others. Self-management is the ability to proactively respond to self-awareness cues. For example, employees who are self-aware are able to recognize when they need to step away in a stressful situation, before loosing their tempers.
Today’s increasingly collaborative workplace also requires employees to better empathize with others. Workers need to see issues from multiple viewpoints, not only their own. The ability to discuss differing opinions face-to-face, in a nonconfrontational way, is critical.
Successful employees are able to motivate themselves. They identify the specific attributes of their job they enjoy the most, and then find ways to ensure their daily work includes those enjoyable aspects. Motivated workers also tend to be more optimistic, even when confronted with major challenges. They tend to seek solutions when problems arise, instead of simply complaining about them.
Goal settings skills
In addition to looking for individuals who are highly motivated, companies increasingly desire employees who are able to set personal goals that align with the overall objectives of the organization. Successful workers often develop their own personal mission statements to identify how their own values correspond with company values. This can be a helpful exercise that assists in both personal and professional development.
Conflict resolution, relationship management and other social skills
Workplace conflicts can pose several risks, legal and otherwise. They can reduce trust and hurt credibility. They can also make a productive team dysfunctional. More often, those who are successful at work and in life are able to observe developing conflicts and work proactively in a levelheaded manner to address the problems before they escalate further. Employees with well-developed skills in this area understand that even when taking a stand, showing respect for those with opposing views is paramount. They also recognize when they might need to rely on the advice and expertise of human resource professionals to help calm tensions. Finally, successful workers understand the importance of positive, professional relationships at work. While lifelong friendships in the office are not required, an environment of harmony can become harmful in short order.
Erin Lau is a senior human resource specialist with Insperity, a trusted advisor to America’s best businesses for more than 31 years. The company provides an array of human resources and business solutions designed to help improve business performance. Insperity® Business Performance Advisors offer the most comprehensive suite of products and services available in the marketplace. Insperity delivers administrative relief, better benefits, reduced liabilities and a systematic way to improve productivity through its premier Workforce Optimization® solution. Additional company offerings include Human Capital Management, Payroll Services, Time and Attendance, Performance Management, Organizational Planning, Recruiting Services, Employment Screening, Financial Services, Expense Management, Retirement Services and Insurance Services. Insperity business performance solutions support more than 100,000 businesses with over 2 million employees. With 2016 revenues of $2.9 billion, Insperity operates in 61 offices throughout the United States. For more information visit http://www.insperity.com.