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7 soft skills you need in today’s business world

Written by Mathilde Dillien on 7 May 2019 for Tech Graduates

You’ve (almost) graduated! Congrats! You’ve mastered all the skills and knowledge required to get a degree, but will that be enough to help you land your first job? Probably not, according to LinkedIn’s CEO Jeff Weiner, who claimed that soft skills are more important than knowing how to code in today’s job environment. So what are soft skills? Why are they important? And which ones do you need? Those are exactly the questions we’re looking at today, so grab a coffee and let’s tear through them together!

 

What are soft skills?

Soft skills are best thought of as ‘foundational skills’ – they help you communicate, deal with conflict and advance your career. These skills help you build emotional intelligence and communicate your ideas into the hearts and minds of other people. You may be a kick-ass developer, but in the real world, that amounts to little if you don’t know how to work well with others. Soft skills help you understand how other people feel, work out what they need, and adapt what you say and how you say it so that you are successful.

Why are soft skills important?

In an age where jobs are increasingly being automated out of existence, soft skills have become more important than ever. Soft skills help potential employers get a feel for your personality and tell them what you might be like to work with on a day-to-day basis. Your soft skills indicate how well you may be able to contribute to things like team cohesion, productivity, efficiency, and workplace harmony. The problem is that soft skills are intangible and difficult to quantify; they can’t be taught in lecture theatres or easily measured on paper. That’s why it’s important to be able to demonstrate your soft skills during your job hunt!

So, what are the 7 must-have soft skills for maximizing your chances of career success?

#1 Communication skills

As a tech graduate, being able to demonstrate strong oral and written communication skills will put you ahead of the pack. Strong communication skills will boost your efficiency and productivity and help you hit work targets. Strong presentation skills will help you communicate your ideas to others and bring them along with you. An important, yet often forgotten, aspect of communication is listening. You must be able to listen to the requirements of managers and clients, manage their expectations and produce accurate work promptly.

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You can demonstrate communication skills during your job search by keeping written and verbal communication clear and concise. Be articulate during your phone and face-to-face interviews, and show you can listen to and consider the views of others, by tailoring your communication to them.

#2 Flexibility

Whichever job you land, you’ll face setbacks and unexpected changes on a daily basis. That’s why employers value candidates who show flexibility and are willing to accept changes and look for creative solutions. Employers are looking for graduates who are resilient and can find alternate solutions to obstacles. They also value candidates who are open to suggestions and feedback and can solve challenges such as technical problems or last-minute changes.

You can demonstrate flexibility during your job search by paying attention to detail and showing resilience when faced with unexpected changes. Make sure you listen to suggestions and show you are open to making any necessary adjustments.

#3 Teamwork

Once you leave the bubble of university life, you’ll realize how individualistic studying is. You may have completed group assignments and projects from time to time, but ultimately you are working towards your own best interests. In the workplace, however, success is the direct result of many people working towards a common, shared goal. That’s why employers are looking for candidates with good teamwork skills who can contribute towards a friendly office culture and strengthen the overall quality of the company.

7 soft skills you need in today’s business world

To demonstrate teamwork during your job search you’ll need to show that you are perceptive and receptive to the needs of others. Highlight your intuition and interpersonal acumen and show the hiring manager that you know when to be a leader and when to be a listener. You may be asked to share a time when you worked together towards a common goal, so make sure you have a good example ready to wow them with.

#4 Leadership

Like teamwork, leadership involves a combination of other soft skills such as intuition and the ability to be receptive. As a recent graduate, you may not be applying for positions where you are directly managing others, but you still need to show potential employers that you can inspire others and help guide your colleagues towards a common goal.  You may be asked to manage a project, for instance, so leadership skills are essential.

 

You can demonstrate your leadership skills during your job hunt by highlighting your ability to make fast and effective decisions. Even if you’re applying for an entry-level role, don’t be afraid to demonstrate your leadership potential by giving examples of how you have successfully lead or influenced a project in the past. If you are asked to solve a programming or coding challenge during an interview, the interviewer is less concerned with whether you reach the ‘correct’ solution; they want to see how you go about solving the task. You can shine by demonstrating a positive attitude and showing a constant focus on the end goal.

#5 Personal drive

Employers don’t want to hire someone who requires round-the-clock supervision. They are looking for self-starters who have the motivation and enthusiasm to work well with minimal direction. This is called personal drive, and it’s one of the hardest soft skills to quantify. Think about it. Your degree proves that you have valuable hard skills, but it doesn’t tell an employer anything about your drive. You may be very intelligent and have glided through your degree with the bare minimum of work. Employers want to know that you have a growth mindset and are very positive about working hard.

To demonstrate personal drive during your job search you should highlight anything that demonstrates your motivation and ambition. It could have been an app you programmed in your spare time, or a game you designed for a school project. Or something unrelated to tech that shows you can influence others and stand out, such as a part-time job that shows reliability and commitment.

#6 Problem-solving

As a tech graduate, whichever role you land, you’ll constantly be looking toward the future; anticipating and developing solutions for potential tech problems and needs. That’s why potential employers are looking for graduates who have good problem-solving abilities. They want to hire people who can identify and resolve issues and keep the business running efficiently. This requires not only creativity and analytical skills but also the ability to approach problems with a cool head and remain calm, instead of becoming stressed and irritable.

 

So how can you demonstrate problem-solving skills during your job search? If you’re asked to solve a technical challenge during an interview, talk aloud as you work through the issue. This lets the interview hear your train of thought and gain an insight into the way you reach a solution. Even if you can’t find the right solution, you may be able to show that you know some of the steps and highlight your teamwork skills.

#7 Planning and Organisation

The tech sector is a project-focused industry and one of the key soft skills that more hiring managers are looking for is planning and organization. Effective planning makes it possible to anticipate problems and challenges and transform them into positive opportunities. Most of the jobs you’ll be applying for will come with demanding deadlines and high stakes. Recruiters want to see that you have good time management skills and can compartmentalize your work and meet key deadlines.

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You can demonstrate your planning and organization skills during your job search by highlighting your experience of juggling various deadlines and extra-curricular responsibilities during your undergraduate years. You can reinforce these claims with examples of ways you were able to meet deadlines. This shows employers that you are comfortable taking on deadlines.

Work in progress

Didn’t score a 7 out of 7? No worries, you can train and gain soft skills. At Exellys our Start Smart program is set up to strengthen the soft skills of our consultants through hands-on workshops, training sessions and business games.

Are you chaotic and need of structure? Afraid to give feedback or can’t handle feedback very well? Scared to speak in front of an audience? Hessitant to stand up for yourself? No need to worry because our in depth (open) training program covers all of that. And then we didn’t even mention personal coaching. Discover what we can do for you on our website!

E-book Job interview playbook We’ll release this e-book soon, so make sure to follow us on all social media to get an update as soon as it’s out!

About Exellys

Exellys is a Tech Talent Incubator. We match ambitious companies with the finest tech talent. Are you ready to drive the innovations of tomorrow? Ready to make an impact and become a future-fit digital leader?

Whether you are a graduate or (young) professional, Exellys will unlock your full potential by guiding you to a challenging work environment that perfectly matches your personality, expectations and ambitions.

On top of that, you are enrolled in one of our very own training and coaching programs. This means that, while working as an Exellys consultant, we are helping you to bridge your ambition to excellence.

Through intensive training and coaching, you’ll gain the essential skills, competencies and knowledge necessary to become the highly effective professional you aim to be.

Become an Exellyst and get in touch with us today!