Soft skills, for a solid advantage

Whether you’re looking to cement your career in 2020, or give it an overhaul, it’s your soft skills that are going to give you the edge, according to recruiting trends worldwide. 

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Are you looking to cement your career in 2020? Or perhaps give it an overhaul? This year more than ever, soft skills are becoming increasingly important. Your technical skills and qualifications will get you the interview, but it's your soft skills (which are harder to define and measure) that will land you the job.

So, what are soft skills?

Soft skills are hard to define, but are often those qualities you have that are innate. Soft skills are competencies based on personal attributes, like curiosity, initiative, persistence, adaptability, leadership, and social/cultural awareness. How these qualities evolve depends on your personality and circumstances, but in a workplace they are keenly sought after, often translating into:

  • Critical thinking/problem solving
  • Creativity
  • Communication
  • Collaboration
  • Leadership
  • Flexibility

Jobs that are soft-skill-intensive

In less than fifteen years, a Deloitte study says that 63% of Australian jobs will be soft skills intensive. Deloitte has used ANZSCO classifications to identify these soft skill intensive occupations:

Soft-skill-intensive occupations  Occupations with less soft skill intensity
Managers Trades workers
Professionals Clerical workers
Engineers, ICT and science technicians Sales support workers
Community and personal services workers
Machinery operators and drivers
Office managers and program administration Labourers
Sales representatives and sales persons  

The benefits of having soft skills

If you have well-developed soft skills, or work on defining them in 2020, there are many benefits you'll come to enjoy, including:

  • The opportunity to work globally (and flexibly)
  • Collaboration with great minds — in your office, and beyond
  • Easy transference across industries — leading to new career opportunities

How to identify and develop soft skills this year

Now that you know about the value of soft skills, it's time to hone yours for the year ahead. Here's how:

  1. Know which soft skills are your strengths

    You can identify these yourself, or use profiling tools like this one to help you make a more impartial assessment.  Often, feedback throughout your education and career will give you an insight into the soft skills that you readily display. Remember, this could include good communication, ability to work in a team, problem solving, leadership skills, or creativity.

  2. Work on enhancing these skills

    The best way to build on your soft skills is to be aware of them, and focus on applying them. If you’re good at teamwork, make a point of understanding why — investigate what makes a good team. See if you can play different roles in a team successfully, making you more adaptable. Learn about different tools to collaborate digitally — building on your ability to work in teams that might be global. Studying is one way to do this easily.

  3. Put your soft skills online

    When you think about your soft skills, think about how prospective employers are going to identify and measure them. At university (and in life), you should become involved in projects that showcase these soft skills, and write your LinkedIn profile with these skills in mind.

    Think about any other online profiles you have and make sure they project the same picture, and tweak your resume to do the same. A tip—don’t just say you’re creative or a good leader. You need to demonstrate it with evidence of the outcomes you’ve achieved.

    The demand for soft skills in the workforce is undeniable, both in Australia and world-wide. So make the most of your innate talents now, and use them to help secure you the career you want now and in the future.


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