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Why Soft Skills Make a Difference

To be considered for an open job position, there are specific technical skills that are necessary to have. Surgeons need to know how to operate, accountants need to know how to balance a checkbook, and scientists need to know how to work a microscope.

Beyond that, soft skills are the X-factor for any job seekers. Think about two great surgeons. One takes the time to listen to a patient’s concerns and has a genuine care for the patient, while the other treats the patient just like another number. Which would be more appealing for a patient to choose, and maybe more importantly for the job seeker, which would be more appealing for a hiring manager of a healthcare system to choose?

What are soft skills?

Soft skills can range from having good negotiating skills, a strength when it comes to networking, great presentation skills, being an expert at conflict resolution, or even holding the title of the go-to person when it comes to problem-solving.

Regardless of the industry, business is business. It’s all about finding, attracting, and retaining clients.

If you’re someone who excels at speaking in front of others and is persuasive in your communication, these are two things that can help you win new clients and grow the business you have with current clients.

If you’re someone who provides an excellent experience for a customer, seeks out a solution for any problem, and can resolve conflict as it comes your way, these things can all lead to strong relationships with customers, potential clients, peers, and colleagues.

If you’re someone who is a strong leader, a good delegator, or a team-player, you can help deliver work results that please the boss, your colleagues, and other professional contacts.

What if you’re not someone who fits into any of these personas? You might suffer from a soft skills gap.

What exactly is a soft skills gap?

If you’re someone who works in a field with a lot of technical skills but lacks the less tangible skills, you fall into this gap. For example, you’re good at winning new clients, but not good at retaining them, or you’re good at filling a cavity, but not good when it comes to bedside manner.

With all this importance placed on soft skills, how can you develop them?

The first thing you need to do is evaluate your skills as a whole and the areas you need to improve. Don’t be afraid to ask trusted colleagues their opinions as you go through this self-reflection process.

Once you have an idea of the skills you would want to work on, create SMART goals that coincide. For example, if you plan to work on your customer service skills, pick a goal that’s Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely, such as reducing the number of repeat customer service calls by 10% within one month by a specific date. If presentation skills are where you are lack, a SMART goal could be to improve eye contact by looking up at least ten times over a five-minute period by your next presentation date.

Now that you’ve spoken those goals out into the world, it’s time to create a plan to achieve them.

  1. Work with a mentor who can provide honest feedback and help you develop the skills needed to reach your goals.
  2. Continue your education in the area you are looking to improve by reading up on the topic or taking relevant courses.
  3. Stay positive, patient, and determined throughout the process.

Hard work goes into boosting your soft skills, but it’s time well spent and will help you stand out in a pile of resumes. And for any job seeker, that is the ultimate X-factor.