3 Soft Skills to Work On While Job Hunting
Hard skills are the things that make you qualified for a specific job in a specific industry, but soft skills are the things that keep you in the job. You should absolutely keep up with your hard skills throughout your career, whether that entails going to conferences, getting certificates or even going back to school. But your soft skills also need to be honed.
Soft skills are the things that aren’t necessarily “taught”, at least in a traditional way. Think of them as personality traits, or the things that most, if not all, jobs require. Start by making a list of soft skills that you think you have, plus ones that you think are necessary for your position. Then consider which ones you could, or want to, improve on.
During your job hunt, begin to brush up on some of those skills. That way when you land a new job, you’re starting off on a strong note and can continue that momentum in the next phase of your career. Here are a few soft skills to improve upon that can help you boost your career.
Being a clear communicator, both verbally and in writing, is a huge advantage. No matter what the job, having the ability to concisely get your intended message across can help you avoid all kinds of misunderstandings.
Some people are better written communicators, while others are better verbal communicators. Strive to be good at both, but reflect on what your strength is. Then, brainstorm ways to improve. If you want to become a better writer, use tools like Grammarly to help you point out mistakes, or a tone analyzer to ensure you’re hitting the mark in emails. In verbal communication, ask a close friend or family member to give you feedback on any verbal ticks you may have. These could be saying “like” or “um” a lot, or other phrases that you tend to use frequently. Once you’re aware of them, it’s easier to recognize on your own and work on eradicating them.
Working with others takes some level of adaptability. Being able to quickly change courses, switch projects or pivot ideas is a skill that will help you when it comes to solving problems and working on teams.
If you’re not someone who “goes with the flow,” you don’t need to alter your personality, but instead train yourself to be OK when things don’t go as planned. If a client all of a sudden asks you to take a project in a new direction, take a pause and first consider how you can leverage previously completed work. It’s likely that not all is lost and being able to calmly come up with a new plan will help your stress levels and those of your co-workers.
We’ve all gone down Internet rabbit holes at work just to look up and see we’ve wasted 45 minutes on absolutely nothing. While we all need breaks for our own sanity, make them productive ones so you can actually leave work on time (and save YouTube watching for your couch).
Structure your day in a way that works for you. Trial and error can help you understand if you’d rather do creative tasks in the morning and more administrative ones in the afternoon, or how often you want to check your email. Play around with what seems to work best for you and then stick to it. They say it takes 21 days to form a habit, so give it at least that long and see if you’re more productive (and out the door on time).
So, start working on your soft skills now. That way, when you land your new job you’re starting it with new habits and improved productivity. And it may even help keep you focused as you job hunt, since you know you’re working towards your next big thing in more ways than one.