How to evaluate and improve soft skills?
Previously, it was believed that soft skills cannot be learned as an adult: they are supposedly laid in early childhood when a child observes the behavior of parents and teachers. Today we think differently: universal non-professional skills can be measured and developed.
Here’s how to increase your chances of finding a job by improving your soft skills.
There is a lot of talks now about soft skills. What is it and why did everyone rush to develop them?
Soft skills, or flexible skills, are skills that are not related to a particular profession – the ability to effectively build communication, correctly plan time and work in a team without conflict.
Employers value specialists with software skills more – the company would rather raise an “average” accountant who always submits reports on time than a talented specialist who regularly postpones projects.
What software skills are most in-demand today?
In January 2020, Linkedin Learning analyzed data from 660 million employees and 20 million employers. Based on the information received, Linkedin selected the most popular flexible skills, having posted free courses on their development for free access:
- creativity – the ability of an employee to independently find a non-linear and effective approach to solving a problem;
- the ability to persuade – a skill that is useful in sales and when working with clients;
- the ability to unite and work in a team is necessary for both employers and employees in almost all projects and any position;
- adaptability is highly valued due to constant changes and rearrangements within companies;
- emotional intelligence – the ability to evaluate one’s own feelings and perceive the emotions of colleagues and clients.
How are soft skills evaluated when applying for a job?
In short, it’s always subjective. Unlike hard skills, that is, measurable professionalism, flexible skills do not have certification procedures.
During an interview, recruiters may offer to pass a psychological test or solve a situational problem. The employer interprets the obtained results at his own discretion.
The candidate is asked to describe his behavior in a situation when he did not convince the team to solve an important problem, quarreled with the manager, or did not satisfy the client.
A recruiter or head of a department may be an hour late for an interview, “accidentally” spill coffee on a resume, indirectly make it clear that he is not interested in a job seeker, – bury his phone or fix a manicure.
How you react to employer behavior will be the result of stress testing. Usually, such meetings are held for office managers, security guards, and drivers – professionals who regularly encounter irritants.
The candidate is asked to solve a real business – a task from the company’s practice or to analyze a similar simulated situation. The tasks are usually simple – it is not so much the answer that matters as the non-standard solution.
The company can test flexible skills using standardized questionnaires or online applications like Pymetrics. The survey covers the areas of communication, teamwork, leadership, adaptation, time management, and other soft skills.
Can you evaluate the soft skills yourself?
Yes. For example, using free online tests or questionnaires. These are quick, easy, and free techniques that help you outline a rough plan for developing flexible skills.
You can also ask colleagues or friends to comment on a particular skill, but usually, this is not the most honest method – others can be cunning so as not to offend. It is better to contact your company’s boss or HR manager.
How to improve soft skills?
Flexible skills, like any other professional competence, can be developed according to the 70 -20-10. In this model, 70% of the time is spent on exercises or practicing on the “battlefield”, 20% on consulting a coach or talking with colleagues, and 10% on reading articles or books.
Another way is to take a free online course at any university or enroll in an intensive course at a trusted school. Look for projects on intellectual volunteering.