Today, successful companies are on the hunt for the best talents on the job market. When most of the workforce and new graduates possess post-secondary education and relatively equivalent skills (from conventional business to engineering training), there is one thing that can make a difference when you apply to a position: soft skills.
Soft skills are distinct from hard skills, which are often associated to technical knowledge (job-related skills). They are much harder to define and evaluate; they include personal attributes, personality traits, inherent social cues and communication abilities. Soft skills are often part of our personality and our emotions, that’s why most of the time we are not fully aware of them!
A study made by the Annenberg School of Communication and journalism at the University of Southern California (led by Ernest J. Wilson) showed that companies are looking for five types of soft skills when they want to hire or to promote an employee:
It is the ability to remain comfortable in ambiguous, unstructured environments and to be flexible when facing continual change. It's about the willingness to adjust one’s thinking and approach in response to new, unexpected or changing conditions and information.
This soft skill demonstrates emotional and cross-cultural intelligence; an individual capable of working inclusively, respectfully and effectively in all kinds of cultures or organizations that have different values, norms, customs, language or terminology. It also demonstrates broad, cross-functional thinking, shunning the limitations of structural, geographic, departmental, or other organizational boundaries.
Empathy is the capacity of understanding and identifying others’ needs, goals, feelings, priorities and perspectives by engaging in active listening and focusing on reflective responses that clarify and strengthen the dialogue. You have to be able to effectively interpret others’ points of view and integrate these insights into more effective approaches to problem-solving and need fulfillment.
It's when you have an appetite for new knowledge, information and understanding that will nourish ever-higher levels of learning and performance. This skill enables you to engage in new opportunities and experiences, to strive for measurable growth and to demonstrate emotional intelligence.
This soft skill takes a multi-dimensional, analytical approach to problem-solving. You have to be able to convert information into insights, implications from data to real-world applications and to bring meaning by “connecting the dots”.
Although it is not necessary to master all 5 abilities, each of them will help you build a better version of yourself and will get you ready to succeed in your interviews and in your career. Today, recruiters pay more attention and spend more time evaluating your behavior abilities and your personality in order to make sure that you’ll be a great fit to the company’s culture, to the different teams and to the different challenges you’ll have to face.
If you wish to get more information about the cultural gap or what to expect from companies when it comes to hiring talents, we advise you to schedule an hour of Face-to-Face with one of our volunteers; this offer is available for all Canada Talents' members. If you would like to benefit from it, you can become a member today! We would love to help you achieve your goals.