A recent Australian study found that more than two thirds of jobs in 2030 will be soft skills-intensive. This trend poses problems for job applicants and businesses alike. It’s easy enough to demonstrate you’ve got the right ‘hard’ skills for a job, such as technical knowledge, but how do you show the value of your softer skills—like problem solving and teamwork?
The answer, for both job applicants and businesses, lies in knowing what soft skills add value to a role. After that, the trick is demonstrating and assessing evidence of those skills.
Knowing what soft skills are helps
Soft skills get bandied about like buzzwords. Before you start adding ‘proactive’ to every line item in your resume, or each criteria on the role description, you need to know what soft skills are.
Soft skills are the human traits or attributes you possess that enable you to effectively deliver outcomes in the workplace. They include traits like communication, problem solving and teamwork; as well as diplomacy, judgement, persistence and creativity. Soft skills can go by other names; including life skills, employability skills or even enterprise skills.
The key is not to get hung up on the descriptor, but to know which traits you possess, and how they add value to how you work. For employers the key is knowing which soft skills really make a difference and how you’ll measure this. So let’s focus on your needs first.
How employers can assess soft skills
It isn’t an exact science yet, but there are a few approaches that businesses can use whether you are an international company, or a tech start-up.
Use online tests or pre-employment surveys. More than 60 per cent of businesses now use personality tests, but beware of their limitations before you take their results as gospel.
Explore role plays or scenarios. Often interviews can be very rehearsed, but scenarios or role plays can provide applicants with a chance to demonstrate how they’d apply soft skills in situations relevant to the role.
Check out an applicant’s online footprint. Professional networks offer more room for applicants to showcase their soft skills or lack of. Meanwhile anything else you stumble across only adds to your insight.
Show the value in your story
So what if you are the job applicant? While businesses try to wrap their heads around assessing soft skills, the story you tell in your resume, and through professional network profiles, is key.
Rinat Strahlhofer, serial entrepreneur and IT coach turned ‘Emotional Intelligence Officer’ to candidates and companies around the world, says: “You already know how to sell work experience, but so does everyone else. What most people struggle with, however, is combining the story about their life experience.”
What she means are the life experiences that demonstrate your soft skills. Rinat encourages job applicants to include anecdotes in their resume to demonstrate the outcomes possible when you use your soft skills to their best advantage. She argues that real stories resonate, and “…when we resonate with a person’s story, we invest.”