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On Social Skills

...Brief notes
On Social Skills

The corporate world [companies and institutions] all over the world -most especially in sub-Saharan Africa, are facing significant lack of relevant skills which goes beyond the normal formal and informal profession / technical and vocational skill acquisition that everyone is clamoring for.

Employers are now searching for the extraordinary personal qualities that will help their companies gain a competitive edge above others!

As the World Economic Forum January 2016 report on future skills argued, it is human ‘soft skills’ that will become increasingly valuable — skills such as empathy, context sensing, collaboration, and creative thinking.

Now we often see job descriptions with the following highlighted!

The successful candidate MUST have

  1. Excellent communication skills both written and verbal
  2. Self motivation
  3. Innovative and a creative / critical thinker
  4. Be extremely time- conscious and (organizational) vision- oriented

And many other ‘similar’ qualities.

These numbered bullets are called SOFT SKILLS and are qualities or skillsets rarely taught through formal training but usually emphasized by training to help hone in on these kind of personal traits.

So let me take the opportunity to divulge on them a bit.

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What are soft skills?

SOFT SKILLS are the intangible or X-factor qualities / abilities that employers seek from candidates in addition to their hard / technical skills or formal education / certifications and their professional experiences.

These are usually part of a candidate's personality- traits, relating to their attitudes, emotions and intuitions.

Soft skills are mainly interpersonal (people) skill and as such they are rather much harder to define and evaluate and it includes communication skills, listening skills, and empathy, among others.

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Why / How are soft skills important?

  1. Soft skills plays a very important role in CV writing, interviewing, and achieving a successful verbal or non verbal communication with people at one’s corporate or social interaction.

For example, you may find that many employers list specific soft skills on their vacancies as REQUIREMENTS or COMPETENCIES.

  1. Success of almost all employers - nearly every job requires employees to engage with others in one way or another.

Therefore, being able to interact well with others is important in any job.

Employers would always select candidates that that the right skillset which syncs with their company culture. A great team player is able to fit and create an atmosphere of tranquility and thus contributing in the creation and maintenance of a near-perfect work environments.

  1. Highlights a candidate as having a unique and broad backgrounds that can diversify a company and help it run more efficiently.
  2. Another importance of soft skills are its TRANFERABILITY.

Hiring managers and employers look for applicants with soft skills because those potential employees can be use them regardless of the job at which the person is working. This makes job candidates with soft skills very adaptable employees.

  1. In customer-based jobs, employees must be in direct contact with customer; thus having communication and people skills is most important. What it takes to do these kinds or jobs, is your soft skills of been able to listen to a customer and provide that customer with relevant, helpful and polite superb service.
  2. Being able to demonstrate your soft skills equates to demonstrating great potential to succeed and progress in the career of your choice.

A partial list of Soft Skills

Just to give you an idea, my team and I have identified 157 Soft Skills!!! (and we give training to just a bit more than 50 of those)

So, this list is anything but complete please.

  1. COMMUNICATION SKILLS

Just think for a minute…. how great are your listening, negotiation, nonverbal communication, persuasion, public speaking, reading body- language, storytelling, verbal and visual communication, report / proposal writing and general writing skills?

  1. CRITICAL / CREATIVE THINKING

Are you creative, adaptable and flexible to issues that crop up?

Can you and do you think and observe critically?

How resourceful are you by also thinking outside the box?

Can you learn in every situation and solve problems on the go?

Are you tolerant of change?

How is your willingness to learn?

  1. LEADERSHIP QUALITIES

Let’s be honest for a moment: Do our graduates have

  • Conflict Management,
  • Decision Making,
  • Dispute Resolution skills?

Can they really manage difficult conversations, resolve issues and manage projects successfully?

A leader must have the skills of coaching / mentoring if need be, manage teams -whether remote or virtual, as well as managing them effectively and giving clear feedback.

  1. WORK ETHICS

Employers look for job candidates with a strong work ethic.

People with a strong work ethic come to work on time, complete tasks in a timely manner, stay focused, and stay organized. They are able to budget their time and complete their work thoroughly.

While they can work independently, people with a strong work ethic can also follow instructions. They are competent, competitive, motivated, dedicated and highly supportive of their teammates; they meet deadlines and are always results oriented.

And integrity -doing the right thing when no one is looking, is part of the workc ethics too!

  1. ATTITUDE { POSITIVE }

As a job seeker, being able to keep things positive in all situations, is especially important if you’re working in a fast-paced or stress-related work environment. Employers seek for cooperative, confident, energetic friendly and enthusiastic employees.

Simply said: Respectable + respectful, humorous employees who will be eager to work and amiable to be around.

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Best ways to highlight your Soft Skills?

  1. SHOWCASE YOUR SKILLS

Since soft skills are important and valuable to employers, it is of utmost importance utilize them and by so doing so to position yourself as an asset.

Skills such as problem solving, communication, ‘teach playing’(training someone via games) and leadership are harder to teach than technical skills so it is most prudent to exhibit.

Easiest ways of soft skills demonstrations is to pay attention to both verbal and body language during the interview, don’t be physically jittery or fidgety, maintain eye contact, and keep a positive appearance (and attitude). These some ways that will project your soft skills without uttering a word!!

  1. TALK ABOUT HOW YOUR SKILLS WILL BENEFIT THE EMPLOYER.

All candidates must showcase how their skills will benefit their employers.

You need to convince your hiring manager about how you’ll be an asset to the company and a great team player.

Elaborate on your skills and how impactful it has been on your professional choices and most importantly how you used them to achieve results.

Golden Tip: Pay attention to the language you use when talking about skills. Please talk about the skill itself and use ‘we’ rather than incessant ‘I’s.

  1. USE EXAMPLES FROM YOUR CURRENT OR PAST JOBS.

The best way to highlight your skills is to provide examples. By talking and or demonstrating with examples about how you used your skills, you’ll show the hiring manager how you can fit into the role you’re interviewing for.

So please, may I suggest that you read my post on ‘How-To Star your Interviews’ ( https://hiregh.com/star ) ? You should be providing examples of how you utilized your skill rather than bragging or boasting about your skills.

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Conclusion: 4 Brief Tips on improving your soft skills

A few points to help hone in, develop and improve our soft skills:

  1. Identify relevant soft skills you want to improve and practice them as often as possible.
  2. Observe and mimic the positive soft skills you see in others by also being an intern, mentee or coachee.
  3. Research on materials than can help you learn and improve on the skills you have.
  4. Set specific measurable goals to improve your soft skill sets.

Thank you and Good Luck,

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Irene

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PS: The above are mainly notes of my contributions/ thoughts during the kick-start of the he ILO/ UG/ IDRC/ INCLUDE (I am a stakeholder) on "Soft Skills for the Youth in Sub Saharan Africa".

About the Author:

Irene Gloria Addison is the owner of HIREghana , a Leading Ghanaian Recruitment Agency and the Prime provider for Soft Skills Training in Ghana (through their HIREseminars services).

HIREghana can be reached at +233 50 228 5155 or +233 266 555 907 - Our websites are https://hiregh.com and https://hireseminars.com

Irene welcomes your feedback/ comments/ remarks/ suggestions via your email message to Press {at} HIREgh . com.

© 2019 Irene Gloria Addison and © 2019 Human Intelligence Recruitment.

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