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What soft skills can help you land your dream job?

Posted on 10th July 2015

When you write a CV and covering letter, you'll probably be outlining all the key aspects of your professional life that could help you stand out from other applicants and put you in a good position for securing that role! But sometimes, being able to ace that all important interview and the rest of the application process depends on a lot more than your qualifications and the responsibilities you've had at work in the past.

A great deal depends on  your personal qualities and the so-called soft skills that might make you a good fit for the role. Indeed, they could sometimes represent the difference between you and other people who are going for the same job.

So what soft skills might give you an edge next time you're up against strong competition for a role?

Industry knowledge
Companies often want their staff to have at least a basic understanding of what's going in the wider industry and any wider issues and hot topics that are on the agenda. Demonstrating some expertise and awareness of the operating environment could therefore show hiring managers that you're the right person, as you have a genuine interest and knowledge of the sector.

Extra-curricular activities
Bosses want to take on self-motivated people, so demonstrating that you've spent your own time engaging in activities that developed you as a person can be invaluable. Have you done voluntary work or participated in activities outside the workplace? If so, it can be worthwhile making some of this known on your CV. It all helps to position you as someone who is keen to get out and do something, engage with others and refine their skills.

You can have the very best exam results and every industry qualification going, but if you lack fundamental communication skills, your job prospects could be seriously damaged. Communication is vital if you're going to be an important part of the team or having to deal with customers and clients, so make sure you're able to speak fluently and confidently before you arrive for an interview.

Good decision-making
Employers don't want to take on people who will dither. Instead, they want workers who are capable of weighing up all the variables, considering various options and coming to a sound decision. If you can demonstrate you're decisive and capable of looking at the big picture before choosing the best course of action, you'll be giving your application a serious boost.

Do you constantly need pushing to get something done, or can you complete any set task without much supervision and come away feeling satisfied with a job well done? If you're the latter, you'll be better placed to succeed when you're going for a job, as qualities such as enthusiasm, commitment and a strong work ethic count for a lot in the eyes of employers.

Ability to cope with pressure
Not many of us will say our job is easy, but how you cope with the pressure on a day-to-day basis can have a big impact on your career. Some people thrive on pressure, as it gives them the motivation and extra push to do everything they need to get things done. Others, meanwhile, don't necessarily thrive, but are still able to manage pressure by prioritising the various tasks they've got to do, spin various plates at the same time and ensure everything is done to the required standard on time. But if you're a person who simply goes to pieces when several things land in your in-tray at once, you might not be someone who employers will be rushing to take on.

IT skills
Nearly every job, it seems, demands a basic working knowledge of how to operate a computer and various pieces of software. After all, technology has become a key part of everything from processing and interpreting data to managing relationships with customers. Recruiters might therefore sit up and take notice if you're highly computer literate.

These are all soft skills which employers will find attractive, so if you can make it clear on your covering letter, CV and at interview that you have these skills, you should be in for a good chance of getting the role!