Those who are trained in technical fields know that their specialized abilities are essential to a good career. But do you know that they are many other skills that can help you build your career — common-sense skills that don’t require special training or certification?
It’s true. No matter how much technical training you have, you will struggle in your career if you lack the soft skills that help people feel confident in you and your business. In a recent survey, 67 percent of human resources managers said they are willing to hire prospective employers with strong soft skills even if their technical skills are not well developed, while only 9 percent would hire someone with great technical skills but no soft skills.
In other words, career success often comes down to how well you interact with your customers and your coworkers. This issue is important to employers, who have reported in recent studies that today’s entry-level workers are lacking in many areas essential to doing well on the job.
If you’re willing to develop those soft skills that others are lacking, you’ll stand out positively in a competitive job market and increase your chances of long-term career success. What are some of the skills you should work to develop?
Communication and Collaboration
Save yourself and your team unnecessary stress by clearly sharing important job details in a timely, positive fashion. Talk about important deadlines. Share what customers have asked for. Tell your employer ahead of time if you know you’ll need time off. Good communication helps you to resolve conflicts, and it fosters teamwork — the ability to work well with others. Many employers hire or decline a prospective employee based on this soft skill alone.
This is another area that employers consider heavily when hiring and retaining employees. It’s obvious why — any career field has its challenges, and problems happen daily on the job. Workers who see a problem and figure out a good solution can take pressure off their team and give customers a positive experience. Happy employees and happy customers equals long-term business success.
Good Customer Service
Many people think that in order to give good customer service, you have to be an outgoing “people person.” But really, it’s more about understanding people’s needs and being able to work with them. Customers respond well and feel that they are getting good service when employees are patient, attentive, thoughtful, knowledgeable and positive, among other traits. Even something as simple as remaining calm under pressure is enough to make your clients feel confident and comfortable at your business. And if they like how you treat them, they are more likely to become repeat customers, which is the lifeblood of any business.
Your boss and coworkers are busy, just as you are. Employees who take initiative and get their work done effectively without waiting to be told what to do are in high demand. Of course, along with taking initiative, you’ll sometimes run the risk of making an error. Take responsibility for mistakes by admitting them, then offering a solution. This shows you’re both mature and reliable.
Remember, these soft skills are something you can develop and improve with some effort. And since they can help you in both your career and your personal life, it’s worth finding ways to build up your skills in these areas. And here are a few good places to start.
Take a Course
With today’s online classes, YouTube videos, LifeHacker articles and continuing education available at area high schools or colleges, it’s easier than ever to study in the comfort and convenience of your own home. If you’re looking for suggestions about building on your soft skills, do an online search for it and make use of the many resources available to you.
Find a Coach
Look around you and consider who you know that is good at working with people, problem solving, or any other soft skill you’d like to develop. Ask that person to coach you on what they’ve learned. Most people appreciate it when you compliment them on what they do well, and they are usually happy to offer you some advice.
Practice at Home, Church, School or Work
There are many organizations in the community that could be of help to you. Toastmasters, for example, is a great group to join if you want to get better at public speaking and thinking on your feet. Volunteering at a nonprofit can help you practice traits like teamwork and communication in a less pressured setting than your day job. And you can always list volunteer work on your resume to add to your appeal to prospective employers.
At Oklahoma Technical College, we train you in the technical skills you need to success in a career in diesel, automotive, welding, or HVAC. But we also encourage development of your soft skills through positive interactions with our skilled instructors as well as your fellow classmates. To learn more about adding the specialized know-how you need for your future career, contact us today and request more information, a meeting with one of our knowledgeable advisors, or a campus tour. We look forward to helping you.