Once upon a time, landing a well-paid leadership position in Corporate America required one to be proficient in their technical competencies. They needed to check all the hard skill boxes to impress top recruiters. Today, in the Modern Workplace, it’s the soft skills capabilities that are moving the needle for candidates and alluring top talent for leading organizations. Often referred to as “people skills”, “essential skills” and “emotional intelligence”, these encompass skills that are nontechnical in nature such as teamwork, creativity, problem solving and adaptability.

In a recent survey conducted by LinkedIn1, the top 5 most in-demand soft skills of 2019 are:

• Creativity
• Persuasion
• Collaboration
• Adaptability
• Time Management

As a recruiter, I can assure you that having technical skills is no longer enough; today’s employers seek more. There is increased importance being placed on soft skills – personal attributes that enable you to interact well with other people.

So why are soft skills so important now versus 50 years ago? Well let’s discuss several reasons why:

1. The Modern Workplace is Interpersonal

The look and feel of our workplaces have dramatically changed over the last few decades. Rarely do you see closed-in, private offices with employees chained to their desks, working 75+ hour a week. Instead, we see a variety of workspaces including breakout spaces, remote offices, social areas, and quiet spaces. Computers, smartphones, and virtual meeting applications have revolutionized the world and enabled us to achieve balance and flexibility within our personal and professional lives.

However, to achieve success in this adapted workplace, skills such as active listening, collaborating with others, presenting ideas and communication with team members are all highly valued and necessary. Because it may be days or weeks before you see a fellow colleague, these skill sets are important in order to be successful in getting work done.

2. Consumers Demand Soft Skills

The modern market presents consumers with volumes of options at their fingertips. Think about how many cell phone plans there are or automobile dealerships. For retail consumers, convenience and low prices are easy to come by – just search on Amazon for a pair of running shoes. However, customer service is often what influences the choice to use a particular business.

I personally will drive out of my way for a QuikTrip because they consistently execute exceptional customer service. To me, all gas stations offer comparable goods and services, but it is the customer service that keeps my business in one place. Skills such as positivity, a customer-centric attitude, and humbleness can help you contribute to the company’s bottom line and provide you and your organization with raving fans.

3. Soft Skills Present Future Opportunities

While your technical competencies and hard skills may get your foot in the door, your people skills are what open most of the doors to come. Your work ethic, attitude, communication skills, and emotional intelligence are critical for future career success.

Effective leaders not only possess the ability to perform in their area of expertise but, they also encompass skills such as problem-solving, delegation, motivation and team building. They embody skills of adaptability, critical thinking, working under pressure and problem-solving. If you wish to continue growing your career, it is important to remember that hard skills are useless without soft skills.

4. Recruiters Look for Soft Skills Development

Technical skills aren’t necessarily hard to acquire. With time, they can be easily taught and perfected. Soft skills, however, are more challenging to develop and learn since they have little to do with book study and more to do with character. There is no test taking to determine you “passed” this area of development. What is impressive to recruiters is the commitment for self-development to improve this area. Business schools are increasingly becoming aware of this shift and taking notes for the future talent of the world.

For example, the Yale School of Management recently introduced “Global Virtual Teams” to teach the fostering of relationships across different time zones and cultures. At Stanford, the Graduate School of Business offers a course called Interpersonal Dynamics, which students affectionately call the “touchy-feely” course. Don’t shy away from courses or personal development networking because it feels squishy; these can potentially make your resume stick out amongst the rest.

5. The Future Workplace Will Require Soft Skills

With the introduction of Artificial Intelligence, the job market landscape is changing, and job seekers need to be aware of the shift. Look around you, Artificial Intelligence is everywhere from the management of behavioral algorithms and retail transactions to voice-powered personal assistants like Siri and Alexa. A.I. is here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future.

While A.I. will continue pushing forward with automating tasks that humans once did, these machines are incapable of replacing soft skills. It is important for candidates to invest in the skillsets such as creativity, empathy, and conflict resolution should they wish to land in a secure, lucrative position. Companies know they cannot replicate these skills with technology and are looking for viable candidates to fill these leadership positions.

The workplace has evolved an interpersonal dynamic that can’t be ignored. The acts of listening, presenting ideas, resolving conflict, and fostering an open and honest work environment all come down to knowing how to build and maintain relationships with people.

As an employer as well as job seeker, it is important for you to recognize the vital role soft skills play and not only work on developing them within yourself but encouraging their development throughout any organization.

[1]LinkedIn https://www.cnbc.com/2019/01/04/the-30-most-in-demand-skills-in-2019-according-to-linkedin-.html

Colleen Wysong is the Director of Operations and oversees business procedures, technology, and Aspyre’s compliance standards. She develops, maintains and communicates the firm’s information processes and data management systems. She works to ensure the firm is meeting quality client service and performance targets as well as facilitating the human resource policies and procedures. For help with your specific situation contact Colleen Wysong at cwysong@aspyrewealth.com, (913) 345-1881 or visit our website at AspyreWealth.com. We help successful people Master What’s Next® – whatever phase of life they are in.

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