There can be no denying that the working world has faced massive upheaval over the past two years. As we prepare to head into the third year of the global pandemic, the long-term effects of prolonged isolation, constant anxiety and long-term uncertainty are beginning to show, and cracks are beginning to form within our teams.
One of the things that we predicted within our two Future of Work whitepaper reports (Part I & Part II) into the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on our working lives was that the demand for ‘soft skills’ within management and HR teams would skyrocket – and it appears that we were correct.
But it isn’t just management level positions that are looking for these skills. As many businesses transition into a hybrid way of working, these soft skills have begun to appear within job advertisements for all levels.
When we are discussing roles with clients, we have found that demand for certain soft skills has risen - and is continuing to rise. If you intend to join the one-in-four Brits who are considering changing their jobs, then it may be worth brushing up on your soft skills as you dust off your CV.
What are ‘soft skills’?
When applying to a role and thinking about your suitability, you are probably sizing yourself up against the hard skills of the role – your technical ability to perform the tasks required of you and your experience using specific programmes.
Soft skills are more intuitive. These tend to involve emotional intelligence, certain workplace behaviours, or require cognitive ability, such as patience or resilience. They are more instinctive and personality-based than skills that are traditionally taught, and enable teams to work together more smoothly and without conflict.
Why are soft skills so needed right now?
Many businesses have cemented the agile and hybrid working practices that they adopted during the pandemic on a permanent basis, and many more have found themselves overcoming roadblocks when attempting to bring their employees back into an office environment.
Soft skills are necessary for a team environment, no matter if that team is distributed, hybrid, or altogether in one office. The right soft skills can encourage collaboration, increase problem solving, and often result in an uplift in productivity of the entire team.
It is also important to note that, despite the rise in AI usage and the constant threat of a future where our roles are automated, soft skills cannot be replicated by AI or machines. They are decidedly human and will be what sets you apart as AI usage increases.
What are the most in-demand soft skills right now?
The answer to this question, of course, will depend on the industry that you work within and the business and team that you are applying to, however we have noticed that there are certain skills, such as empathy and emotional intelligence, that are being asked for at a greater rate.
According to TopResume.com, the nine most in-demand soft skills in 2021 are:
Creative problem solving and innovation mindset
Excellent communication skills
Emotional intelligence and empathy
Time management skills
A growth mindset
Adaptability and resilience
How do you improve your soft skills?
Whilst it is often said that soft skills are much harder to learn and develop than hard skills, that does not mean that it is impossible. The adage of ‘practice makes perfect’ certainly stands here, and the more you practice using and honing these skills, the more natural they will become to you.
If you are currently managing a team, do not be afraid of asking for feedback from those you manage. It may surprise you! You may be doing better than you thought in one area, but identify another which you need to put some work into.
Other ways of improving your soft skills can include career coaching or mentoring. A career coach will help you identify your strengths and weaknesses and will help you work on improving them throughout your sessions. Mentoring can be incredibly helpful for those who may not be in position to hire a career coach, as you will learn these skills from somebody who has spent many years practicing.
There is also a plethora of courses, both online and offline, that you can complete to work on improving these skills.
How do you showcase your soft skills?
Now that you’ve honed your soft skills, how do you showcase them within your application, CV, or interview process?
Firstly, you should consider which skills you expect to be the most in demand, especially post-COVID-19. Empathy, for example, is a very in demand skill for managers as workforces up and down the country find themselves burning out. How have you used your empathy to help your current or a past team? Are you well known within your business for boosting morale? Be sure to find a way to showcase these examples.
One of the simplest ways to showcase your soft skills on your CV is to create a ‘skills’ section, where you can list those qualities that will make you shine. It should be clear and easy-to-read at a glance, so bullet points would be a great idea here.
You can also make sure that these soft skills are obvious within your job descriptions within your work history, giving real-life examples of when you have used these to great effect.
If you are considering making a change in your career, why not chat to one of our lovely recruitment consultants? You can register with us as a candidate here, or feel free to drop us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your CV and we’ll give you a call.
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