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Use your soft skills to land your ideal job

Kate Allen, Managing Director, Allen Associates

In today's highly competitive jobs market, employers are having to be more flexible with their requirements to encourage people to apply for their vacancies. Soft skills have always been important, but never more so than now when many employers are having to take the longer term view and focus more on people's potential. This is a great opportunity for job seekers looking to branch out and explore new opportunities. Find out which soft skills employers are currently looking for.

There's no denying that in a different market, most employers would prefer to hire people with a specific set of skills and experience as they are more likely to be able to hit the ground running and add value to the business in a short space of time.

However, with more job vacancies than unemployed people and an ongoing shortage of quality candidates, employers are having to think laterally about their resourcing needs.

In addition to investing more in their attraction and retention strategies and the overall employee experience, many are having to re-think their approach to staff training and development – and that means a greater emphasis on soft skills than ever before.

Which soft skills are in high demand?

When we talk about soft skills, we're referring to the qualities and attributes that tend to be tied in with your personality, attitude, approach and behaviours.

If you have the so-called soft skills that employers value, they are more likely to invest in teaching you the specific skills they need within their organisation. While very few people are lucky enough to be born with a full set of highly desirable soft skills, most of us have at least a couple of attributes to be proud of and which, with a bit of work and effort, can become real selling points.

Our clients are particularly interested in the following soft skills:

1. Flexibility

Given the amount of change that employers and employees have had to cope with in recent years, a flexible attitude is essential. You will need to be open to change and be able to adapt to new circumstances when necessary. Employers will be looking for resilience, a can-do attitude and a  willingness to rise to new challenges.

2. Communication

With so many people now working from home for at least part of the week and the increasing reliance on email and video calls, it's imperative that you can communicate well with colleagues at all levels.

This doesn't mean that you have to be an extravert, talkative or exceptionally good at writing. It's more about being able to explain your ideas clearly, in plain English and in a way that others find easy to understand and act on.

3. Leadership

This is not something that is restricted to management positions. Leadership goes hand in glove with good communication skills and is about being able to voice ideas or share information clearly, in a way that others can buy into and support. It's important to be self-aware, in tune with the needs of others and to be able to show empathy.

4. Creativity

Unless you work in one of the creative industries, you may well see 'creativity' or 'innovation' in a job advert and think it's not for you. In fact what employers often mean is that they are looking for someone who is able to bring new ideas or a fresh perspective to bear on their work. Every role, team and business has its challenges and people that are able to look at things from different angles, offer potential solutions or introduce new ways of tackling things, add real value to their employer. Be curious. Ask questions.

5. Accountability

People are increasingly expected to work autonomously and employers need to be able to trust their staff to be productive, pull together and get the job done, especially when working remotely.  They are looking for people that are responsible and accountable, take pride in their work, are diligent, committed and want to do well – for themselves as well as the business.

Be yourself!

Above all, remember to be yourself. Employers are not looking for robots. They are looking for hard working, helpful people whose values, attitudes and behaviours align to theirs and who will fit in socially. Make the most of the current market and the opportunities it presents, invest in the process and you will almost certainly reap the rewards.

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