Why Soft Skills Still Matter

Have you noticed how companies, hiring managers and recruiters are screaming “Where are all the skilled workers!?” It seems everyone working to fill a position is looking for skills, as in skills in technology, engineering, digital, coding, nano-tech, accounting and so on.

But what if you don’t have those particular skills? What if you’re a great writer? You get along well with others and help alleviate conflicts among colleagues when things get testy? What if you work well alone as well as in a team? What if you’re good at training others in sales, or WordPress?

What about you? Are you sunk, lost, never to be noticed by an employer again!

Hardly! Yes, certain skills are highly valued by employers, but the best coder in the world isn’t going to be highly prized by his colleagues or his supervisor if he’s a loner who makes snide remarks when he’s interrupted.

Instead, as technical skills become more and more important, so are soft skills raising their profile among hiring managers because the more impersonal the workplace becomes, so grows employers’ need to hire people who have the skills necessary to answer yes when someone asks “Can’t we all just get along?”

This post discusses how you can showcase your soft skills to an employer. Take a look below.

Jobs in Irvine

The Three Top Soft Skills.

As our workplaces become more automated and technical (and therefore impersonal), employers are going to be looking people who:

  • Have the ability to collaborate with others (also known as a knack for teamwork).
  • Can think critically.
  • Are able to communicate well.

“Hard” skills may get you an interview, but unless you have soft skills, you won’t get the job – and then promoted within it. Tech, accounting, coding, marketing skills, etc. are what employers specify in job descriptions, but you will need to let your soft skills shine by being personable in your job interview, communicating well, asking questions, sending sincere thank you notes, negotiating salary, and so on in order to receive an offer

In addition, once you’re on the job, your people skills, your positive attitude, a strong work ethic, emotional intelligence, etc. will help you move up the ladder. They are, in fact, crucial skills to have if you want to succeed in any capacity.

To showcase your soft skills in a job interview, follow these tips:

  • Give specific examples of the times you went “above and beyond” for an employer and how doing so benefited the project on which you worked. (Soft skill: work ethic.)
  • Bring examples of written work you created to showcase your communication skills. In addition, tell the hiring manager/interviewer how you helped diffuse a tense situation, how you were able to move a skeptical prospect into a buyer, and so on.
  • Explain how you prioritize your to-do list, how you delegate to others and/or speak to managers when too many of their competing must-dos need to be coordinated among them. (Soft skill: time management.)
  • Dress appropriately for the job interview. Look the interviewer directly in the eye. Give her a firm handshake before and after the interview. Keep fidgeting to a minimum. Ask questions that show you’ve researched different aspects of the company and how the job opening fits into helping the company meet its goals. (Soft skill: self-confidence.) Practice these skills with a trusted friend or family member, if possible.

If looking for work in Southern California, bring your much-needed soft skills to Helpmates. We can help you find terrific job and career opportunities with many of the region’s top employers. It’s a candidates’ market today and our clients need you! Contact us today.

The Quick-Start Job Search Guide

Even though this definitely is a candidate-driven market (and it should continue to be so at least through all of 2018) and employers are practically on bended knee “proposing” to talent, Los Angeles-area workers could see themselves suddenly without a job: layoffs STILL occur!

If this has happened to you, you may decide to take a few days or weeks off to mourn your loss and even recharge. (“It’s a sort-of vacation!”) This can be a good idea, but we urge you to take only two or three weeks – at most – “off” before starting your job search in earnest.

Why? Because the very fact that you are unemployed – even if it wasn’t your fault – makes you much less desirable than someone who is still employed, even if you have highly sought after skills. Why? Because being unemployed makes you an “active” candidate. If you were still employed, you would be a “passive” candidate and employers prefer passive candidates because “we don’t have to worry about the circumstances surrounding their departure from their last job.” That’s right: get laid off for no reason other than because your employer decided it needed to cut back on its employee roster and you’re automatically (probably subconsciously) lumped in with ne’er do wells, thieves, folks who weren’t up to the task, “problem” employees, etc.

Is this fair? Of course not! But it is reality. So if you find yourself out of work, don’t sit around watching Hulu videos or finally getting around to painting your Huntington Beach condo. Start looking for work. Pronto!

Take a look below for 11 steps to take to get your job search started quickly. As in half a day!

Orange County Jobs

  1. Get organized.

Put on some comfortable clothes, find a quiet space in your home, get your previous resume and a cover letter handy, open up the laptop, and start contacting friends to see if they’d be willing to proofread your revised resume. Get some tea and/or coffee and settle down for the afternoon.

  1. Start thinking about where you’d like to work.

Have you always wanted to work at some particular company or companies? List them. Go to each of their websites and do some research. Jot notes about the companies’ products/services, their goals/challenges (check their blogs or news media sites for insight into these things). Look at your LinkedIn profile to see if you have any first, second or even third connections who either work at the companies or who may have connections at the companies. Check the companies’ job openings to see if there’s anything that fits your bill.

  1. Check job boards.

Don’t spend a lot of time on this. And don’t apply to any openings. Not yet. This is recon: you want to see what job opportunities currently are to be had for your background and skill set. Make notes (bookmarks, too) if anything you see particularly strikes you or piques your interest.

  1. Pick five favorite openings and/or companies.

Head back to LinkedIn and see if you know anyone with any connection. Ask them to set up an informational interview with them. (Here’s a networking email template that says it will “get you a meeting with anyone you ask.” Let us know if it works!)

Work to set up a minimum of three meetings. Set those three meetings up today.

  1. Write a cover letter and tailor it to EACH different opportunity.

Seriously: each cover letter needs to be different. You cannot use the same cover letter for each opening. You need to show how your skills, background, accomplishments, and possibly education will help the employer solve the problems the position is supposed to solve and/or reach the goals the position is supposed to reach.

  1. Beef up your resume.

Tweak/edit it so that it highlights your specific accomplishments: those problems you solved and goals you reached for your previous employers. Don’t be afraid to also tweak your resume for each position.

  1. Send the resume/cover letter to one or more friends for proofing/feedback.

You want absolutely no grammar or spelling mistakes. None!

  1. Apply for the three or so openings online.

Upload your docs and hit send.

  1. If you’ve heard back from your potential informational interviews, set up meeting times.

Mention that you’ve applied for openings at their company (if applicable). Approach friends, family members and current and/or former colleagues for coffee meetings. Let them know what type of work you’re looking for, your skills/background and make sure to ask them if they know of anyone else with whom you could meet. (Tip: don’t wait for your friend to make the intro: people are busy and may forget. instead ask your friend for his contact’s email or phone info and ask your buddy if it’s OK if you contact the person directly, saying that your friend suggested that you contact the individual.)

  1. Repeat each day until you accept a job offer.

The way to find a job quickly is look for work each day. Yes, the old saw is true: view searching for a job as your job.

  1. Consider signing up with a staffing service such as ours.

Helpmates has new temporary, temp-to-hire and even direct-hire job opportunities appearing every day. You can work with us on temporary assignments while you job hunt on your own or allow us to send you on interviews for more permanent positions.

Take a look at our job openings and apply online. Or contact the office nearest you.

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