Learning How to Perfect Your Soft Skills

by Valerie Kielmovitchconversation

What are soft skills? Why do they matter to an employer?  Unlike technical skills, which are specific to an occupation, soft skills are also known as interpersonal or people skills.  This skill set encompasses communication style, conflict resolution, team building, strategic thinking and more.  Technical skills are needed in most positions, but soft skills help contribute to a person’s ability to perform a job well and fit in with a company’s culture.  Employers want to hire well-rounded individuals who have both the technical expertise and the ability to work and communicate effectively with co-workers.

Many candidates obtain Bachelor of Science degrees and maintain high GPAs, but what sets one candidate apart from another?  Sometimes it comes down to their soft skills.

The top soft skills that employers look for in candidates vary based on the position.  However, many employers emphasize communication, positive attitude, professionalism, team work and flexibility.

How does one improve their interpersonal skills?

  • Practice
  • Be self-aware: ensure you are using eye contact and that your words flow well together
  • Ability to discuss skills/abilities in an interview setting
  • Brush up on writing ability
  • Join clubs/organizations where collaboration/team work is needed

To perfect your soft skills, work to enhance your abilities and develop skills you may lack. Feedback from trusted peers, supervisors and mentors is a great way to identify areas in which you may need improvement.  Once you know what to work on, practice these skills, utilize resources, including Career Services resources available to you, and implement soft skills in your job search and professional career.

Valerie Kielmovitch has been working as a Program Manager in the Career Services Office at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University since 2010.  She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Central Florida and Master of Education specializing in Higher Education and Student Affairs at the University of South Carolina.  Valerie has a diverse background in the field of higher education from residence life to career services.

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