What Are Soft Skills?

what are soft skills

Applying for jobs, writing your resume and acing an interview are all about presenting yourself well. You want to highlight the skills you have and how they match up with the job you’re applying for. Some of these skills are easy to assess. Are you familiar with Microsoft Office? How fast can you type? Do you have specific certifications etc. Other skills are less easy to qualify.

What are Soft Skills?

Skills like leadership, flexibility, and problem solving are all considered soft skills. Soft Skills generally refer to the personal skills one has that allows them to work effectively with others. Soft skills are about how good you are at interacting within a team and with others.

Are They Important?

For most employers, soft skills are just as important for the applicant to have as hard skills. While hard skills will prove you are able to do the specific tasks of the job well, soft skills will tell employers whether you can work with others and help their business grow. Soft skills speak more to who you are as a person rather than a worker, and while companies want good workers, they’re also looking for great people.

Showing Off Your Soft Skills

Soft skills can be a little harder to make clear. On your resume, in your cover letter and during an interview be prepared to share examples of how you displayed creative thinking, leadership and decision-making skills. Pay special attention to the soft skills that the company has put in their job listing and think of examples for each.

Improving Your Soft Skills

If you feel that your soft skills aren’t where they need to be to land you the job, there are a couple ways to improve them. Many soft skills simply need to be flexed and used to get a better handle on them. Seminars on leadership and teamwork can serve as a base to grow from. Volunteering in your spare time will also give you instances to use and grow your soft skills. You can also use stories from volunteering in your interview to demonstrate your ability.

Take time to grow your soft skills and find ways to share them through your cover letter, resume and interview.

 

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Preparing for Your First Job Interview

Preparing for Your First Job Interview - The Job Window

If you’re about to head into your first interview, it can be pretty daunting. Preparing for an interview can be difficult, especially for beginners. Today we’ve got a heads up on what you can expect from a job interview, and some helpful ideas on the best way to prepare for it.

 

What to Expect

Let’s get the obvious stuff out of the way. You’re most likely going to be meeting with one person, at their place of work to talk about getting a job. It’ll probably be you and the employer sitting down across from one another at their desk, or at a boardroom table.

On to the less obvious stuff. Your interviewer may ask to see your resume. Depending on how they do their hiring process, it’s never a guarantee they’ve seen it before. So always bring a copy of your resume with you. This is something beginners often forget. Bring your resume in something that prevents it from getting bent as well. If your interviewer asks to see your resume and you pull out a crumpled piece of paper, that’s all they’ll need to know about how much you want this position.

 

What Questions to Expect

Every interviewer is different and every interview will vary as far as the questions go, but when you’re preparing for an interview there are a few common ones you can expect. Your interviewer will probably ask you to tell them a little bit about yourself. This is so they can get a sense of who you are. Give a brief description of where you went to high school and college, talk about your interests and how they led you to this position.

You’ll also be asked about a specific time in your past where you demonstrated a key ability. Most often, the ability they will ask about comes right from the job posting. Make sure to think of specific examples from work or school where you overcame an obstacle, had to deal with a difficult team member or found success. They more you can relate these to the job your interviewing for, the better.

 

Another very common question that gets asked in interviews is where you see yourself in five years, or what your goals for the job are. Being ready with an answer to this question shows that you’ve thought about your future with the company.

 

How to Prepare for the Interview

Now that you know what to expect and what questions you might get, what else can you do to make sure you’re ready? Undergrad Success points out the number one thing you can do is learn about the company!

 

Demonstrating knowledge about the company shows you’re interested in not just the job, but this specific company as well. It can be as easy as checking out their website and following them on Facebook and Twitter.

Choosing Enthusiasm – Monday Motivation – The Job Window

to-infinity-and-beyond

When you were a kid maybe you wanted to be an astronaut or a mega superstar singing sensation, or an inventor – whatever it was, you were probably really excited about the idea of this amazing career you were going to have. The fabulous things you were going to do with your life, the thrill of everything that lay ahead of you.

 

Maybe some of you are still on the inventor path, but most are probably working toward something a little more commonplace. No matter what your career choice or the path you’ve chosen to follow, how do you feel about this life you’ve created for yourself?

 

Are you excited to get up everyday? Do you bring enthusiasm to what you’re doing?

Even if you are not exactly working toward the career of your dreams it is still important to find something to be enthusiastic about every day.

 

Maybe you like everything about what you’re doing, maybe half and maybe only a little. Maybe your enthusiasm resides in things you do outside of work, with friends for example, or a cause you volunteer with. Whatever it is that you like, focus on that. Make it your reason for jumping out of bed. By focusing on what brings you happiness, the things you don’t like feel less negative and the things you like even more positive.

 

Your attitude about your life is what will determine the life you are going to lead. Your position, your pay are not the ultimate determiners of your happiness. Your attitude is.

 

By choosing enthusiasm, by focusing on the bright moments – and there will invariably be bright moments, every day has the potential to lead you to infinity and beyond.

Your Professional Bio

Your Professional Bio

There is a section when you’re filling out your LinkedIn profile, right near the top that’s called the Summary. The summary is where you talk about yourself, who you are and where you’ve worked. If you’re like most people, you find talking about yourself a little weird and you’ve spent a lot of time starring at that blank summary section wondering what exactly to write. Writing a strong bio is essential for getting people interested in the rest of your profile.

If you have Twitter you’ve come across this very same issue. Twitter offers you 140 characters for your Bio. You want to say what you’ll be tweeting about, maybe a quick joke and a nickname. There’s not much space available. You need to be concise.

Then there’s the opening section of your resume, at the very top you need a summary of who you are, what you do and what you’re good at.

Why You Need a Bio

Whether it’s for professional purposes or not, it’s good to have a Bio ready to go. In the world of work you need to be able to tell people who you are and what you’re about quickly, and directly. Here are some tips to help make writing a strong bio a little easier.

Start Personal

When people first read your bio or summary, they want to meet a person, not just a list of achievements. Share who you are, and what your area of expertise is. As Forbes puts it, “Tell Your Story”.

A story is always the best way to get people interested in you. How you got into your industry and what has drawn you to specific work is an awesome way to share your passion with others.

Move into Professional

Telling your personal story should lead into your professional story. How you got started, where you are now and where you are aiming to go. Share your passions and your professional history including your achievements and successes. Once you’ve hooked people with your personality and story, it’s time to show them you’ve got the stuff.

Write in Third Person

According to Chris Brogan, you should write your bio the third person. You want it to sound as professional as possible, so instead of writing “I studied abroad…” write “James studied abroad…” While it’s generally understood you’ll be writing your own bio, this added element of professionalism can go a long way.

Keep It Short

Some summaries are anything but. People go on and on about what they’ve done and where they’ve been. No one wants to know everything about you right off that bat. Too much text and they lose interest and move on. Focus on the things that you’re proudest of, and the things that highlight you and your accomplishments best. Most importantly, if using your bio for a specific job application, make sure you share the things that best match up with that job.

 

Whether for your resume, LinkedIn, a website – whatever, it’s always a good idea to have a bio ready to share.

Negotiating That Job Offer

Negotiating That Job Offer

If you’re applying to a minimum wage job then how much you’re paid isn’t really an issue, but if it’s a salaried job then there’s an opportunity for negotiation.

 

When to negotiate

You need to have salary expectations in mind going into the interview, but the time to negotiate isn’t around: Hi my name is Jim and I’m expecting to make $50K does that work for you?

 

The first interview probably isn’t the time for salary negotiations to start. They should wait until it’s clear that you are a choice candidate. If the company likes you and has chosen to make you an offer then they are likely prepared to negotiate. That negotiation is actually part of the hiring process.

 

Know your number

Salary negotiation isn’t something you start thinking about when you’re in the interview or discussing the job offer. It’s something you’ve prepared for well in advance. You’ve already done your homework and have a salary range in mind before you came into the interview.

 

That doesn’t necessarily mean a specific number, I expect to be making $52,342 a year. Better to have a range, I’m expecting to make in the $50 – $55K range.

 

If you don’t have an answer for the salary question, then that can actually drop you in the ranks if not discount you from the race altogether. It indicates to potential employers that you either don’t value yourself, know your worth, or have done your research. If you couldn’t even prepare yourself for an inevitable job-related question what kind of drive and motivation do you have?

 

Don’t forget about the benefits – they’re part of the negotiation. Holidays, insurance, pension are all topics that need to be addressed. Job perks can make a significant contribution to your salary.  So, like you did your homework on salary expectations, you should know what you’re looking for in terms of medical, dental etc. The other thing you should remember to ask about is the company’s policy on future raises.

 

Don’t act like a thirsty wanderer in the desert

If you go in with the attitude of a thirsty wanderer in the desert of the job market willing to take whatever drops are offered you, you will probably end up with only a few drops. A confident attitude, surety in yourself and an ability to stand up for yourself speaks volumes about what you will bring to the job.

 

Don’t be greedy

If however you’ve been offered what you were expecting or more, then that’s not the time to start asking for more. Asking for more than you’re worth simply demonstrates a lack of judgment.

 

Do back up your expectations

Have reasons for your expectations. Why are you worth what you say you’re worth? Be prepared with examples from your resume and your personal experiences. Just because experiences didn’t come out of a job environment, doesn’t mean they aren’t part of the package you are presenting.

 

Thanks but no thanks

Be willing to walk away. If the job isn’t right for you don’t just take it out of desperation. You’ll end up looking again sooner rather than later. Better to get the right job with the right salary in the first place.

 

Take time to be sure

Don’t feel like you have to make your decision on the spot. It’s perfectly okay to take a day to consider your options.

 

Negotiations can be hard. The employer is going to try and get the best deal for the company while you’re trying to get the best deal for yourself. That doesn’t mean negotiations are negative. They’re an opportunity for you to showcase your value. How you handle yourself during negotiations is indicative of how you handle yourself in general.

Got Any Questions For Me?

Got Any Questions For Me?

 

The interview is just about over. You might have some questions to ask or it might be the case that all of your questions have already been answered.  A couple of standby possible questions include: “How would you measure success for a person in this role?” or “What are the biggest goals for this role in the next year?”

Like a few more choices? Check out this list of 45 Thoughtful Questions to ask during an interview from TK+CO