Soft skills are among the most in-demand qualifications today’s professional can bring to the table. “A recent LinkedIn survey of 291 hiring managers found 58% say the lack of soft skills among job candidates is limiting their company’s productivity.”
What are soft skills? No, it’s not being good at trust falls or crying at work. Here’s our favorite definition of soft skills:
A collection of several skills and abilities related to the execution of such tasks as communicating, managing time, negotiating, writing, listening, reading, presenting, problem-solving, and decision making.
In short, soft skills are mission critical to finding success in your career. These talents are the reason why you go through so many rounds of phone, skype, and in-person interviews. “In a Wall Street Journal survey of nearly 900 executives, 92% said soft skills were equally important or more important than technical skills. But 89% said they have a very or somewhat difficult time finding people with the requisite attributes.”Recruiters are trying to get a sense of what you’re REALLY like to work with.
There’s a good chance you already have a solid set of leadership, communication, and business etiquette abilities in your arsenal. How can you stand out from the crowd even more? Use BULLIT to curate references along six unique, important professional heuristics: your Brains, Urgency, Leadership, Logic, Imagination, and Trustworthiness (see what we did there?). Here are some tips for developing your soft skills – and making sure you get credit for them!
Brains: Quick thinker or dim bulb?
This might seem like the hardest aspect of your score to change. Some people are just smarter than others, right?
Not necessarily. There are plenty of ways to build your brain!
Keep your brain active: try playing Tetris, doing crossword puzzles, or playing brain exercises on a program like Lumosity. These games can “increase gray matter for a short amount of time, and it can also help with performing spatially-related tasks.” When you come home at the end of the day, rather than plopping down in front of a screen immediately, take 10 minutes to meditate or do a puzzle.
Learn constantly: file under “fake it til you make it.” You don’t have to have a high IQ to know a lot. Use an app like Feedly to create constant streams of learning: about your industry, your company, and the rest of the world. Become an expert in a few big things that will make a big impact on your company, and no one will care that you failed AP Bio.
Urgency: Are deadlines laws or suggestions?
Do you have trouble hitting deadlines? Feeling a little unproductive at work? These aren’t character flaws, these are easy areas where you can make a hugely positive impression on your coworkers.
Plan each day the night before. Take 15 minutes to prioritize your to-do list before you even get to work. We get it: when it feels like you’re running out of time each day, it can leave you feeling panicked when you get to work. Have a set, manageable plan for what you’re going to accomplish to set yourself up for success.
Perfect your morning routine. Volumes have been written on how important it is to start your day with a consistent routine. A morning routine is an indicator of how the rest of your day is going to go; and if you want to hit deadlines and feel productive, start your morning with energy. A few things you can try? Read an inspirational book for 15 minutes, meditate, do some journaling, or get in a quick workout.
Leadership: Deserves to be ship captain?
Especially if you’re an introvert, being a leader may not come naturally to you. And that’s fine! There are some quiet ways to show you can credibly lead a project without having to toot your own horn. Check out this post for some more ideas!
Listen effectively. It’s a common misconception that good leadership is just telling people what to do. Equally important, however, is the ability to hear what people are telling YOU. “Without listening skills, you are not able to get feedback from others and get a sense of what team members like about the projects they work on. Feedback is key.” When people feel heard, they’ll view you with more respect.
Know your leadership style. “One of the reasons people think becoming a great leader is hard (or is something you’re born with) is because they try to adopt someone else’s leadership style instead of developing theirs.” Play to your strengths, and you’ll be a more authentic leader. For a fun experiment, check out this flowchart from Fast Company that helps you determine what fictional TV boss you’re most like.
Logic: Thinks clearly or makes easy things difficult?
Logic and strategic thinking are some of the most in-demand soft skills out there. How well do you think through a problem?
Join a debate club. There are tons of Meetups across the country for adults looking to take it back to their Model UN days. Join a debate club to sharpen your logic skills, practice doing Sudoku, or join a group like Toastmasters.
Imagination: Creative thinker or box dweller?
No, you don’t have to have gone to art school to be creative and imaginative. There’s a process that comes with developing your creativity. It involves pushing your brain to look at things from a different angle.
Find inspiration in other industries. “Your next idea won’t come from copying what a competitor has already done. So look for innovation in different industries and niches. Research what businesses are dominating. Why?” Take your thinking outside the box to boost your creativity! The sky’s the limit.
Make connections. Steve Jobs said it best: “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something.” Find inspiration in unexpected places, and then find ways to connect that inspiration back to your day to day work. Boom: imagination.
Trustworthiness: Straight shooter or misses the mark?
You’re a trustworthy individual: you’ve never stolen cleaning supplies from the office to take home with you. You deserve the credit for your integrity and accountability. So can you do to make sure your trust score on BULLIT is reflective of who you really are? What does it really mean to be trustworthy in the workplace?
Respond to your BULLIT reviews: Showing that you can take criticism and positive reinforcement in stride is a big step forward to showing you are accountable — and accountability is a key component for having people trust you. It can be as simple as saying thank you when someone leaves you a nice BULLIT review or taking time to respond thoughtfully to constructive criticism.
Be true to your word. “If you say you’ll provide an employee with a specific document for a report that’s due in an hour, send him or her the document immediately. If your team has experienced pushback from higher up on a project and you tell them you’ll stand up for them, do so.” Put your money where your mouth is.
Sign up for BULLIT today to see how your career can benefit from showing off these skills!
Also published on Medium.