A Guest Post by Luke Doyle
If you’ve been offered a job interview, you can feel pretty confident that your qualifications, work experience, and technical abilities have satisfied the ‘hard skill’ requirements of the job.
Now it’s time for you to make a good impression in person. For that, you need to show that you have the personal qualities, or ‘soft skills,’ that are most desirable for your chosen profession. Your soft skills are what make your hard skills shine, and show that you are able to apply your talents competently in the role that you are applying for and within an organization’s working culture.
Recruiters and hiring managers are increasingly making a point of including soft skills as desirable qualities in job advertisements. To find out more about which are the most in-demand soft skills in different employment sectors, NetCredit gathered information from 45,000 job listings in the US. They also collected some expert advice on how to highlight the most desirable soft skills in an interview.
According to the study, the most in-demand soft skill in America is collaboration, which featured in 22.5% of the job ads. This really makes sense, because even the most solitary jobs require some interaction with clients or colleagues, and many more careers involve a high degree of teamwork and project management or a highly collaborative nature.
Innovation is also a highly desirable soft skill, with 19.2% of job ads in the study asking for people who can come up with fresh ideas, products and systems. Confidence was mentioned in 13.9% of all ads in the study, and patience and creativity are also in-demand, with 10.3% and 9.6% of ad mentions, respectively.
The study also showed that recruiters for certain industries are more interested in soft skills generally, and that some specific soft skills are favoured more highly within different fields.
The top sector hiring with a focus on soft skills is Business Services (HR, Admin, Customer Service), which has 5,461 ads featuring various soft skills, favouring collaboration and creativity the most. After that, 4,730 Science & Engineering job ads feature soft skills, with a leaning towards confidence (and not so much interest in creativity).
Finance & Insurance was third, with 4652 ads requiring a range of soft skills. Tech (2,881 job ads) favours collaboration and confidence, while Marketing & Advertising (2,785 job ads) is the only field that is looking for patience above all (although collaboration, as ever, is also high on the list).
Depending on which sector you are interviewing for a job in, you might want to focus on showcasing certain soft skills in particular. Of course, it’s unlikely that a recruiter will be put off if you show yourself to have the full range of soft skills. The expert advice collected by the NetCredit study suggests that being mindful of some simple tips could make a big difference in communicating a positive sense of emotional intelligence to your future employer.
For the all-important soft skill of Collaboration, for example, you don’t need to be heavy-handed or labor the point about being a ‘team player.’ A subtle shift in your use of language (using ‘we’ rather than ‘I’) can show rather than tell your interviewer that you take a collaborative approach to your work. Similarly, Confidence is an embodied soft skill, so you should show this in your body language, gestures, and general demeanor.
For other soft skills, such as Innovation, Patience, and Creativity, the experts recommend using concrete examples of times when you have displayed these soft skills. Provide a real-life context to help your interviewer visualise your approach to a particular challenge or task, and be explicit about the positive results that resulted from your application of soft skills.
Take a look at these visualizations for more information about which soft skills are most desirable to employers in different states and sectors, and more useful tips on how to impress your interviewer with them!