By: Gary Coleman
In a tough job market, any extra skill can be an invaluable differentiator from you and your peers looking for work. It can also be what separates you from your coworkers in the workplace. One invaluable attribute is having strong soft skills, especially within the staffing world.
So what are soft skills, and why are they so important?
Soft skills are personal attributes that enhance an individual’s interactions, job performance, and career prospects. Unlike hard skills, which are solely about a person’s skill set and ability to perform a certain type of task or activity, soft skills relate to a person’s ability to interact effectively with coworkers and customers and are broadly applicable both in and outside the workplace.
Staffing, naturally, is a people-oriented business and to work in the field, you need to be able to interact and build relationships with both customers and contractors in order to be successful. There are hundreds of staffing companies out there, all targeting the same people. You need to be able to build that rapport and trust in order to set yourself apart from the competition – and soft skills will do just that.
From a recruiter’s standpoint, and at an internal level, soft skills help you build better relationships with Account Managers and Business Managers, which means more business for you. Because, if you become someone that an AM or BM genuinely enjoys working with, they’re going to be much more willing to sell your candidates and alert you to new, hot business that will close. On an external level, and again from the view of a recruiter, being able to have casual conversation with candidates will only translate into more accountability to you. By this I mean, candidates will feel more responsible to you if you talk to them person-to-person as opposed to staying in the headhunter persona and only going through your list of prescreen questions – making you seem more like an automated recording instead of someone they can actually connect with on a personal level.
What are soft skills managers are looking for?
So now you’re probably asking yourself, what are some soft skills that employers look for and that will benefit you and your career? A couple of years ago – but I’d say are still applicable today, as soft skills never go out of style – AOL ran an article outlining the soft skills that managers look for when interviewing prospects. A few most noteworthy are:
- Strong Communication
- A Solid Work Ethic
- Time Management Abilities
- Creative Thinking/Problem Solving
- How You Work Under Pressure
Like hard skills, you can improve your soft skills through education and practice. Keep self-reflecting, keep improving, and you’ll get to where you want to be, albeit professionally and personally, in no time!