Soft Skills for Career Success: Part 1 – Employability Skills

When we coach clients through a career change or job search, they will often focus heavily on their technical skills and experience while neglecting to recognise the significance of their soft skills.  The benefit to be gained by considering values and employability skills alongside the technical skills allows us to identify a good culture and job fit in organisations and careers.

An ability to articulate your employability skills and values are the secret to developing a compelling “value proposition” to potential employers.

In our work with organisations and individuals, we are seeing a trend toward hiring for values and soft skills.  Sure, the hiring manager wants to ensure that the technical skills are there (or nearly there, as technical skills can be taught), but what they’re finding is that the interpersonal skills are the ones that operate as the glue to bond people within teams and provide the drive to deliver excellence.

In fact, LinkedIn’s new 2020 Skills Report showed how we respond and interact with others is a key consideration for employees in the new decade.

In this two-part blog, we’ll be looking at two aspects of those transferable skills:

  • Employability Skills

  • Values

Firstly, let’s look at Employability Skills.  What are employability skills you may be asking?  The chart-toppers in the LinkedIn report were:

  1. Creativity

  2. Persuasion

  3. Collaboration

  4. Adaptability; and

  5. Emotional Intelligence

When we work with our clients, the challenge often lies in not just paying lip-service to these skills but in identifying whether they are relevant and determining how to best authentically communicate the skills in application documents and interviews.

The first step is to clarify your ‘value proposition’ for yourself, so that you can assess whether the hiring organisation or career space is a good fit for you and whether you have what the hiring manager is looking for.  The second step is to gather evidence through stories to help you prove your skills.

To get you started, we’ve provided a brief review of what each is and how to demonstrate your capacity:

Creativity – this is the ability to bring original thinking to the table.

Can you think of a time when you’ve identified a new process or tool or an improvement?  This might be a widget design or a new way of tracking documents, down to a new idea for dealing with customer complaints.

Persuasion – This is the ability to tell a story and provide context for a decision or pursuing a new idea.  Communicating the ‘why’.

Can you identify a time in a previous role (or your current one) when you’ve been able to promote a change in process or a new concept to get people on board?  How did you achieve success?  What were the hurdles you overcame?

Collaboration – The old saying that ‘we are greater than the sum of our parts’ continues to hold true.  Effective teams can deliver outstanding results by working together for a common outcome.

Do you have a story where you’ve been part of a high-functioning team and have helped to deliver an outcome through teamwork, collaboration and relationships?  What was your role?  What was the result?  What difference did it make to your team or organisation?

Adaptability – Change is a constant and it is increasing in rapidity.  Adaptability is a core skill in every working environment.

Can you remember an occasion where you’ve embraced change and shown up with a positive attitude and open-minded professionalism?  What were the benefits that were realised through your flexible approach? 

Emotional Intelligence – here’s where things can come unstuck.  Emotional intelligence, or emotional quotient (EQ) is the ability to regulate your own emotions and recognise, appraise and respond to those of others.

The stories you need here are the ones where you demonstrated a capacity to work with others in a range of difficult situations.  It may have been the way you handled negative customer feedback or supported a colleague through a difficult project.  It could also have been the way you managed your own emotions.

Considering these five key employability skills, knowing your stories, adding them to your resume and ensuring that you have examples primed and practised, will place you in a good position to demonstrate that you are more than the sum of your technical skills and will truly add value to your new employer beyond the responsibilities of the role.

In the next chapter, we’ll further discuss values and how they also have an impact.

If you struggle with this work or would like to workshop how to best articulate your skills, we have a range of services including, career counselling, job search coaching, interview skill training and a great online career management program to support you.  Get in touch for a chat today.