Want a job? Sharpen your soft skills

Posted on Posted in People Skills

If you’re looking to get a job, keep a job, or land your dream job, the key may lie in your soft skills.

Soft skills are the most common skills desired by all employers at all levels of an organization – from entry-level workers to the executive suite.

Soft skills are a reflection of emotional intelligence — being self-aware and socially-aware.

Soft skills include:

  • Your perceived level of integrity, work ethic, and professionalism
  • An ability to write and speak clearly and competently
  • Confidentiality, trust, and the ability to work through conflict effectively
  • Your perceived contribution to the team…to the whole
  • An ability to adapt and act appropriately in a fast-paced, technology-driven, diverse work environment

Soft skills are a misnomer. “Soft” here is not synonymous with weak.

Neither are these skills less important than technical skills. In fact, strong soft skills become increasingly important the higher you go up the career ladder.

So if you have your eye on a particular job, the key to landing it is to not only have the skills required for it in the job posting…that’s a given…but to convince the hiring decision-maker that you are the most attractive candidate based on those required skills plus some. In other words, you need to provide the most added-value.

Increased skill sets demand higher salaries. Some jobs even require certain licensures or certifications. But no job ever outpaces the attractiveness of plus some.

If you need heart surgery how would you select your physician? You’d ask for recommendations…from your regular doctor, friends, family, and anyone you knew that had required the same surgery. Let’s say after initial research, you narrow it down to three candidates. You schedule a consultation with each. Each seems equally competent. So what criteria would you use to decide?

The plus some is a set of sometimes intangible or hard to even name qualities like…the office décor was inviting, the location and parking were convenient, the receptionist was kind, the surgeon didn’t keep you waiting and took time to answer your questions, the nurse reminded you of your third grade teacher…you get the picture. For some reason, you liked one better than the others. You had some connection or they just felt “right” for you.


Dan Miller, in his book, 48 Days to the Work You Love, says the unspoken question…the elephant in the interview room…is some form of, “Do I like you?”

In an article titled Top Executive Recruiters Agree There Are Only Three True Job Interview Questions, George Bradt says the third question is “Can we tolerate working with you?” The reason the STAR method (situation, task, action, result) – also known as behavioral interviewing – is so popular is that folks are trying to get to the truth of this question.

So…in conclusion…how do you (1) get a job, (2) keep a job, and (3) land your dream job?

Sharpen your skills, especially your soft skills, and getcha some “plus some.”