Learning a new skill or two or gaining experience is something that you'd expect out of just about any job that you can imagine. Continued learning of new skills or abilities is a good way to move up in your career or job and makes for a well-rounded resume. While gaining a skill of any sort is useful, often the skills built at work emphasize improving hard skills rather than soft skills. Today we'll take a look at the two different skill categories and explore some of the soft skills that are most useful for professional success.
Soft Skills vs. Hard Skills
- Hard Skills. Hard skills refer to specific tasks or topics that are highly teachable and are commonly taught in most workplaces. Things like math and science topics, reading, typing, computer software, or data entry are all hard skills often used for work purposes. Hard skills consistently follow the same rules and include the same processes wherever you work. For example, if you use Microsoft Word at one job, that hard skill will carry-over to any other job that you might take in the future.
- Soft Skills. Soft skills are harder to teach and are challenging to improve because they are less measurable and more challenging to pinpoint than hard skills. Soft skills are a combination your personality and interpersonal skills. Soft skills include things like effective communication, adaptability, networking, and the ability to influence others. Soft skills might change from work-place to work-placed based on organizational culture and other factors.
Important Soft Skills
- Adaptability & Openness. These two soft skills might be the hardest to put your finger on but are two of the most important to perfect for work purposes. Adaptability is the skill to quickly adjust effectively to any scenario at work. Remember that soft skills change based on workplace expectations, so adaptability is especially important at a new job or during the interview process. Openness at work refers both to interactions with others and to feedback. This skill is important because being adaptable and open will help you navigate several common work scenarios. Practicing openness in communication and remaining open to feedback will improve your workplace communications across the board.
- Focus. Learning how to focus is a soft skill that is easy to define but difficult to master. Obtaining focus is important because it will improve your productivity and increase your tolerance for tackling more challenging tasks. As you improve your focus at work, the good news is that your newfound ability to focus will also benefit your personal life in a similar manner, increasing both your ability to tackle tougher home projects and live effectively.
- Self-Confidence. An often overlooked and under-valued soft skill, self-confidence is important at work for so many reasons. One of the most important reasons for having a strong sense of self-worth is because you signal to others how they should treat you based on how you treat yourself. Self-confidence is not the same thing as over-confidence; a self-confident person stands assured of their own self-worth and does not seek confidence from outside sources.
Incorporating soft skills into your work takes practice and time. Work at each new soft skill with intention just as you would work on any hard skill and you'll find yourself building and fine-tuning your own soft-skills in no time.
For more information on this and related topics, visit the Career Advice section of our blog.
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