Have you recently finished your studies and want to start entering the world of work? Or have you already gained some experience and want to find a new job? In any case, you know well that before starting your search among the millions of job advertisements, you must take your CV in hand: enter your qualifications, update your latest work experience, take language courses, etc. In short, you will try to make your CV as dazzling as possible to impress recruiters. I’m sure that when filling out your resume, you will have heard about soft skills.
You can call them whatever you want, “skills” or “transversal skills”, but one thing is sure: believe it or not, today they count more than hard skills linked to qualifications. Nowadays, as we know, a winning CV no longer focuses only on a degree and previous work experience. To be perfect in hiring candidates, we must also focus on so-called soft skills. Soft skills, in our globalized and highly competitive economy, have become a fundamental competence and a crucial factor of differentiation and success for both companies and candidates entering the job market.
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Soft Skills And Recruiting: How To Differentiate Yourself From Other Candidates
Soft skills are valuable to managers and employers because they relate to interpersonal effectiveness, inner strength, and work ethic, as well as the fact that they will add value to your career and allow you to move from one job to another with great versatility. In a constantly changing world dictated above all by digital transmission, job offers are increasingly refined in search of increasingly unique professional figures. The so-called transversal skills come into play and are often the ones that shift the balance in favor of choosing one candidate rather than another.
To ensure the success of their company or professional career, entrepreneurs, managers, professionals, and human resources managers—in short, anyone who wants to enter the world of work—need to update the so-called “skillset”. Did you know that? HR managers, for selection and performance management purposes, very often evaluate a possible ideal professional profile precisely based on the soft skills that the candidate possesses, and it is for this reason that it becomes essential not to underestimate their effectiveness. But do we know what soft skills are? How can we best develop them and include them in your curriculum effectively?
Soft Skills: What They Are And How They Differ From Hard Skills
Hard skills are the technical skills acquired and, therefore, require a learning process for specific knowledge. Soft skills, on the other hand, constitute the counterpart of the more well-known hard skills; we can define them as transversal, relational skills, i.e. those interpersonal, human, and behavioral skills necessary to optimize performance in the work environment and improve productivity. Intrinsic qualities are part of us, of our personal growth rather than educational growth. They include skills relating to personality traits, attitudes, communication styles, and all those empathic skills that are difficult to learn at school.
How To Develop Soft Skills
Soft skills are not learned at university, of course, but it is still possible to work, thanks to daily commitment and a predisposition towards self-improvement. Soft skills can never be mastered perfectly for two reasons: the first because they include factors that we cannot directly control (relationships with others and work management), and the second. After all, personal growth is a continuous and unstoppable process. Therefore, our skills and abilities will also refine as time passes. Once we have identified what our soft skills are, we can use some strategies to develop them further and better. Here are some:
- Mapping the skills: the individual talent is analyzed, the expected level is assessed, and we proceed with the description and evaluation of the results achieved in the period. Self-evaluation can be carried out even if you don’t work for the company, giving yourself objectives and chronological windows for evaluating yourself.
- Seek feedback. The best way to grow and develop your skills is to become aware of your strengths and weaknesses and act accordingly. Asking for feedback, observing, and listening to those around us is the necessary starting point to understand perception from the outside and proceed with development.
- Practice with friends or colleagues: Those who already work for a company are familiar with skills training. In other cases, role-playing games can be organized with friends to put skills into practice and have judgments given to them. Let’s take an example: if you want to improve negotiation, you can sit with a friend as a boss. Subsequently, you will ask him for a raise, using your oratory and mediation skills. At the end of the game, the friend-boss will be asked for feedback on how the interaction was conducted.
- Share the experience with a guide: coaches, mentors, or tutors, whether internal or external to the company or organization, can help develop specific soft skills quickly and effectively because they personalize the learning process based on the subject. Collaborating with someone who can guide us in identifying skills and provide us with tools to develop and put them into practice can have an invaluable impact on professional success.
- Learning to learn also means opening up to new opportunities, and this happens through reading books, magazines, articles, training courses, sharing with industry experts or colleagues, traveling, or experiences abroad. All this, combined with the desire to question oneself, predisposes the individual to open up towards a dimension of growth and development beyond the role or profession of reference.
How To Include Soft Skills In Your CV
Usually, during the interview phase, soft skills are widely investigated and tested by HR managers. These skills are instead positioned when drafting the CV, only at the end. It is fitting, although, as mentioned previously, it is always better to give the proper emphasis to these qualities even before the hard skills. Here’s what you should, at least, avoid doing:
- Don’t just list them like a classic shopping list; select the most exciting and suitable soft skills for the work context you are applying for and contextualize them based on your main experiences. For example, avoid writing only “good communication skills,” but indicate why you believe this is the case, explain why you think you have this skill, and describe the moments in which you acquired it.
- Express yourself freely without, however, being too verbose. Try to convey the impression of being concise and comprehensive.
- Finally, please don’t be shy and invest in your soft skills without wasting them. Ultimately, these will make the difference between you and other candidates.