When completing applications, attending interviews or even starting a role, you want to show an employer that you are qualified and skilled for the job. But landing that perfect internship or graduate job, isn't just about demonstrating your academic and technical skills, indeed many employers are happy to provide training for more technical areas of the job. The ability to demonstrate your ‘soft’ skills however during an application process is crucial. So just what are the top 'soft' skills employers look for in successful hires? We're pulled together the top ten.
1. Verbal communication
Verbal communication is vital for liaising with colleagues and clients, so you need to be show a future employer that you can listen, understand instructions, and put your point across in an effective way. Employers need to know that you are able to change your style of communication to suit the task in hand. This is an invaluable skill, and can lead to key business successes, whether you're handling conflict or persuading customers of the benefits of your product or service. If you can develop constructive and meaningful relationships with colleagues, this leads to a healthy and productive working environment.
A good team player will have clear goals and is willing to work with others to achieve them. It is important to be open, honest, and offer constructive suggestions whilst listening to others. You should be able to show teamwork in various different ways, be it examples of previous work experience or your extra-curricular activities. It isn’t always about being a leader either, or a follower, it’s about understanding the situation and being able to work with others to take appropriate action.
Taking initiative shows a willingness to get stuck in and become involved in business activity.
3. Commercial awareness
Having commercial awareness is a crucial soft skill, as it shows you are conscious of external factors that affect an organisation. This means that you have the passion and interest to find out more about the field in which an organisation operates. You might do this by reading around the subject, and by having an ability to talk about how current affairs impacts the industry you are going in to.
Are you the person that is willing to take the first step? Taking initiative shows a willingness to get stuck in and become involved in business activity. You will be the person who is willing to come up with ideas but also someone who can put them into action. Having initiative means you will be keen to see successful change management in action, and you won’t be afraid to be the person that kicks this off.
It might sound obvious to say it, but organisation is a skill for which employers are hungry. You must be able to plan activities and prepare your work load. This is a pre-requisite when working with others and scheduling work to particular time frames. You need to be someone who can be relied upon to deliver projects and information in a logical and controlled way. Demonstrate your ability to show well-structured work which always arrives on time.
6. Time management
Closely linked to this, good time management is about the prioritisation of the most important tasks. You should be the kind of person who is happy to juggle various different tasks and work on several projects at once, whilst delivering what you have promised.
In these rapidly changing times, you need to show that you’re adaptable and flexible and willing to change with the times. If you can step outside your comfort zone and try something you haven’t done before, this is a great asset to any employer. Employers want to see people who have a can-do attitude, and have a positive and upbeat attitude to trying new things.
8. Written communication
As well as being a good verbal communicator, you should be able to express yourself clearly in writing. Employers want to know that you can tailor your communication to whoever you are speaking to. This means using appropriate language, sharing ideas and facts clearly, and presenting your work in a professional manner. Poor written communication can be very frustrating for clients and colleagues, and can potentially damage business processes and relationships.
Employers want to know that you can tailor your communication to whoever you are speaking to.
9. Self awareness
As a self-aware graduate, you should have the courage to ask questions, and have a confident knowledge of your strengths and weaknesses. You need to believe that you can do the job, and project this confidence onto those you work with. You will be happy to freely contribute your ideas and take constructive criticism on these.
At times, this can be a buzz word to use in applications and interviews. Creativity is the next step up from problem solving, in that you are applying your imagination to creatively solve problems. You should be able to think of new ideas and develop current ideas to spark change in the workplace. This shows your ability to bring additional value, and these creative ideas are appreciated and valuable to any employer.