Our grasp of soft skills could make all the difference between getting that dream job or not. So it’s about time you develop your soft skills and learn how to demonstrate them during job interviews.
This is especially critical as most employers tend to make their hiring decisions based on the candidate’s soft skills during the final rounds of the interview, especially when the shortlist is down to two equally outstanding candidates.
Soft skills are also transferable skills. This means that no matter which job or career you choose, you will need to apply soft skills such as effective communication, stakeholder or time management and be able to innovate and adapt as the situation demands.
A great command of soft skills could help hiring managers determine how well you play with others at work and whether you’re a good fit to the organisation’s culture. This explains why soft skills are important and highly valued, regardless of the position or industry that you’re working in.
As economist Guy Berger aptly puts it, “Hard skills vary based on the job, but soft skills are required for every job”. Even if your role is specialised and technical in nature, you’ll benefit from being able to display adaptability and strong communication skills.
Our Randstad Workmonitor survey has revealed that employers are looking for candidates who are equipped with essential transferable skills. Employers are looking for talent who are empathetic, creative and are able to think critically and outside the box.
Don’t worry if these abilities do not come naturally to you. Soft skills are completely learnable if you are willing to put in the work.
So which soft skills are the most important to employers? There are countless of them but here are the top soft skills employers look for which you can develop and add on your resume to help you get the job you’re looking for.
5 must-have soft skills for candidates
Effective communication is one of the most sought-after soft skills in the workplace. It is essential for employees to be able to not just only understand what is asked of them at work but also be able to receive and dispense information in a clear and concise manner for others to interpret.
During the job interview, you’ll have to explain why you’re the best person for the job, and how you would make a great fit for the organisation. Not only will you need to speak with conviction, but you will also need to actively listen and pay attention to non-verbal communication cues from the interviewer.
A candidate with strong communication skills is likely to be hired over one who is found to be lacking in this area, even if they are more technically skilled. This definitely holds true in the Asia Pacific context.
According to NTUC LearningHub's survey in 2020, business leaders in Singapore had singled out effective communication as one of the three most sought-after and valuable supplementary skills. Likewise, a 2019 Emerging Jobs in Malaysia report noted that communication will continue to be in high demand by local employers.
Your communication skills will help you establish rapport with your colleagues, get your ideas across adeptly, influence behaviours of key stakeholders and understand what is being asked of you.
Improving your communication skills is just like learning a new language, the only way to improve is to practice. In addition to texting your friends and colleagues, you can call them for a chat (and hear their lovely voice)! You can also reach out to a recruitment specialist for tips on interviewing and presentation skills.
2. organisation and coordination
One of the most important aspects of working life is to know what needs to be done and by when. An organised person is able to maintain a sense of structure in their work, such as being able to work on specific tasks to meet deadlines.
Being able to plot a project timeline or manage your work duties can help decrease the risk of an accidental blunder. And even when something crops up, a well-organised worker is always ready to overcome the new challenge as they would have already factored in contingency plans to cushion any potential impact.
There are many different ways one organises and coordinates their work. Some people can work in an “organised mess” while others may follow a very strict structure. But if you’re not that organised, you should perhaps download a productivity-boosting app to help you keep track of your deadlines. Alternatively, you can keep a physical checklist or diary to help you stay on track.
Organisations are always restructuring their business to keep up with trends or comply with new regulations. Sometimes, these changes are completely unexpected - like the COVID-19 pandemic. Being able to adapt to constant change is an element of resilience, which is essential to a company’s continued success.
Being adaptable can help buffer your organisation from any unexpected challenges or uncertainties. This is why when you embrace change and get on with the plan, you’ll be able to earn more trust from your bosses as they know that you’re doing right by the company.
Candidates who demonstrate that they embrace change also tend to have a positive mindset. They are composed under pressure and are more receptive to disruptions, which are all beneficial traits in the eyes of the employer. These candidates are usually the ones who encourage and motivate their team members to keep a fresh perspective on issues, regardless of circumstances.
In times of crisis and rapid automation, adaptability is a highly sought-after soft skill that many employers look for. One of the most effective ways of acquiring this skill is highly dependent on your proactiveness at work or in your personal life. Someone who is always raising their hands to try new things at work or offer to participate in resolving a challenging situation.
Being analytical means to have a thinking approach to make strategic decisions based on the available information, no matter how limited they may be. Analytical skills can help you envision and conceptualise the best course of action to get out of tricky situations.
In the analytical process, you will need to break down complex issues into smaller parts that are easier to solve. Focusing on the different elements while still having the big picture in mind can help you prepare a well thought-out proposal. Ultimately, your ability to collect, synthesize and analyse information and use that in your problem-solving will make you a far more attractive job candidate.
Seize every opportunity you have to develop your analytical competencies. You may volunteer to participate in problem-solving meetings and shadow those involved in that process at your company. Even though you might be turned down the first few times you ask, your persistence could eventually pay off when your managers recognise your ability to present invaluable insights and new perspectives.
Having good relationships with your teammates can make your work a more pleasant experience, and at the same time, improve the quality of your work. After all, research has shown that happier workers tend to be more productive.
A study by the UK’s University of Warwick found that happy employees are 12% more productive, which makes a great case for helping your teammates out whenever possible. In a 2016 workplace survey by Gensler, Asian office workers from the likes of Hong Kong SAR and Singapore who were happier at balanced workplaces are found to have better relationships with their managers.
Keeping a friendly and approachable demeanour will go a long way toward boosting relations with your co-workers. Not only will you be able to work more collaboratively and comfortably with your colleagues, you’ll also get the opportunity to establish new friendships!
Hiring managers highly value one’s ability to play well with others, as the last thing they want to do is resolve conflicts that could have been easily avoided. Since trust must be earned, take the time to build rapport with others in your team and organisation.
take initiative to upskill and learn
The development of soft skills requires constant practising with your family, friends and colleagues. Although there are some soft skills training you can participate in, it is still all about taking the initiative to strike a conversation and participate in decision-making meetings.
If you would rather have an independent review of your soft skills, you may contact our friendly specialised recruiters for a chat. They will also be able to advise you on your career growth options.