Whether you’ve already secured a full-time position with an employer, or are gearing up for your first job search as a new grad, you’ll still have a lot of learning left to do. Once your career takes off, there’s no doubt that you will pick up industry-specific skills. However, the type of soft skills you develop will play a major role in your long-term employability.
To ensure you hit the ground running on day one, here’s a breakdown of the top 5 soft skills you should focus on throughout your professional career:
- Strong communication skills
While communication may seem like the most obvious skill to possess, many employers perceive it to be the most lacking soft skill among recent graduates. Since communication skills can encompass so much, it can be difficult to identify which aspects to emphasize on the job. From day one of your new job, everything from your handshake to your ability to answer questions articulately will make for a good first impression. Similarly, written communication is just as important. For example, knowing the difference between certain homonyms (i.e., they’re, their, and there), responding to emails appropriately, and being personable with colleagues can all go a long way in establishing yourself as a good communicator.
- Problem solving/analytical skills
While every new job will come with a learning curve, prospective employers want to know you can address problems as they arise. Therefore, your problem solving and analytical soft skills are important to perfect. For example, employers may expect you to develop workable solutions to challenges as well as exercise creativity in coming up with new ways to solve old problems. At the end of the day, employers want to feel confident that members on their team can handle issues on their own and can think through solutions in a proactive manner.
- Attention to detail
If your emails contain misspellings, typos, or punctuation errors, this will immediately raise red flags about your attention to detail—a soft skill an increasing number of employers seek in new hires. In addition to proofreading your emails and work, other ways to ensure strong attention to detail includes: asking the right questions throughout meetings, completing projects by outlined deadlines, and attaching all necessary attachments and information in your emails. In contrast, making repeated mistakes or failing to follow directions carefully may put your job at risk.
- Team player
Employers aren’t simply looking for someone who has the right technical skills needed to do the job; they also want employees who are the right cultural fit for the team and organization. In some cases, this may speak to your ability to work well in a team environment. For example, you may need to collaborate with different team members or take constructive feedback on projects. The easier you are to work with as a team member, the more opportunities you may have to work on different types of projects.
The ability to lead is a soft skill that employers are looking for in all of their candidates, especially their younger employees. As more baby boomers retire, companies are placing a greater emphasis on their succession planning efforts and preparing younger employees for future leadership roles. As a result, you don’t necessarily need to be in a managerial role to show that you have leadership potential. For example, being able to evaluate the work that needs to get done and take on these tasks without being told is one way to take ownership of your role.