Don't forget about these soft skills that can help you to succeed in 2023

You're in the middle of your job search and you feel confident that you're the right candidate for the job. And why are you so sure? That's easy - you have all the professional skills the job requires, from the training to the industry knowledge and technical skills.

News flash - so does your competition! The question is: do you have the soft skills employers want from their job candidates?

The playing field has changed now, thanks to the pandemic and its impact on the labor market. The last few years have created new challenges that forced companies to do things differently and, consequently, they changed what recruiters really care about

“Undeniably, COVID-19 has thrown a wrench into the hiring process for both job seekers and recruiters alike, which our data confirms by uncovering what's newly important in one's candidacy,” said Amanda Augustine, TopResume's career expert.

“Our findings reveal that job seekers may be taking themselves out of the running even before - or right after - the virtual interview, because they're ignoring the key factors to which recruiters are suddenly paying attention.”

It's not as mysterious as you might think. What really helps job candidates to stand out from the rest are the soft skills employers want and need. The new normal includes not only more remote work, but also an increased emphasis on productivity and collaboration. That means that key soft skills in the workplace are more important than ever, with some rising to the top of recruiters' wish lists in 2023.

What are soft skills?

Think of soft skills for work as your personal skills - things you do that make you a great employee outside of the technical skills that are needed for the job. They may come naturally to you, or perhaps you've added some classes to your list to augment these abilities. If you haven't, consider taking online classes and other certification courses to develop strong soft skills in the workplace. Including soft skills on a resume is absolutely essential if you want employers to quickly see that you have the talents they're looking for.

These are the top soft skills employers want to see :

1. Creative problem solving and innovation

The last few years have presented a plethora of new challenges for companies. The last thing an employer or hiring manager wants is an employee who sees a challenging situation or new task and says, “Wow, I don't know what to do here.” Instead, they want to know that you can think logically and creatively to develop solutions to the problems or obstacles that arise from day to day.

They also hope you'll help to come up with new ideas while addressing existing problems. And the more creative, the better; that kind of thinking leads to innovation and improvements within the company.

On your resume, be sure to highlight your problem solving skills and list situations where you had to use your creativity in the face of adversity by coming up with innovative solutions to the problems you encountered.

At your interview, express your enthusiasm for tackling challenges. Every job has hurdles and employers want to hire people who aren't afraid of tackling those challenges. Make sure that your interviewer knows you're one of those people.

2. Communication skills 

This is a broad category; it can include everything from how you converse with a client and colleagues to how well you get your point across in emails. The ability to communicate with clients and team members is essential. And, now that most communication is done through emails, chats, video, or phone conference calls, strong communication skills are more critical than ever. 

Taking a class on effective communication skills is well worth your time and money. It's one of the most crucial soft skills in any job, in any industry. If you already think that it's one of your best attributes, find a way to demonstrate that on your resume and in your interview.

3. Time management

Moving to a partial or complete work-from-home environment was a big leap of faith for many employers and hiring managers. Would their teams be legitimately productive away from their office? Without the natural structure that a day at the office provides, time management became a soft skill that quickly rose to the top of many recruiters' priority lists.

Time management means that you know how to organize your schedule to get your projects done on time and with efficiency. How well can you focus on your work and manage your time to stay productive, without a manager looking over your shoulder?

Your work calendar is your best friend when it comes to time management. Set daily and weekly goals for what you'd like to accomplish and don't be afraid to block off time on your calendar to zero in on that work. If you're preparing for a job interview, see if you can learn what project management tools the company uses and familiarize yourself with those products. If you can demonstrate familiarity with the tools they use, you'll have a leg up on the competition. 

4. A growth mindset 

When it comes to ensuring longevity in your career, you need to be able to grow and adapt to changes within your industry and the job market as a whole. With the mechanization of jobs and industries, having a growth mindset is essential. 

So, what is a growth mindset? Professionals with a growth mindset are motivated to reach higher levels of achievement by continuously learning new skills in order to move with a changing market. Essentially, it's being adaptable and willing to go above and beyond the soft and hard skills you already have. 

Showcase your growth mindset on your resume by highlighting examples of how you showed initiative by learning a new skill that improved your performance or helped you to keep pace with industry changes.  

5. Emotional intelligence

What does it mean to have high emotional intelligence? Emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive, evaluate, and respond to your emotions and the emotions of others. This means that you're able to think empathetically about the people around you and the interpersonal relationships that develop in the workplace.

This is another of those soft skills employers want to see, and it's taken on new meaning for 2023. As we emerge from the shadow of the recent pandemic, many people continue to struggle with their place in the workforce and the world. Having the ability to read the emotions of your co-workers and respond with compassion is essential. 

In fact, one survey by CareerBuilder reported that 71% of employers value emotional intelligence in an employee over IQ, while 75% are more likely to promote an employee with higher EQ (emotional quotient) over someone with higher IQ. 

The best way to show your emotional intelligence? During your interview.

6. Collaboration

Collaborating with your co-workers isn't as easy as it seems. There are always those who believe that they know how to do the job and don't trust others to do their part - and that can create tension in the office and hurt overall efficiency. 

Learning to trust others, work together, and give and accept ideas is a difficult skill to master - but, if you can, you'll be well ahead of the competition.

Show off your best collaboration soft skills in your resume by describing your ability to work with other team members. You should highlight it during your interview as well. Show enthusiasm for accepting colleagues' ideas and maximizing your team's overall efficiency by using each person's individual strengths.

7. Adaptability

Change is always a major part of the modern-day workplace. The lightning-fast advancement of technology has forced industries to evolve or perish in recent years. Those changes are sure to continue in the years to come, which is why adaptability is now one of the top skills employers are looking for in job candidates.

Think about all of the changes we've seen in recent years. Many offices went from 100% on-site work to partial or completely remote work during the pandemic. Video conferencing became an everyday occurrence, while working and collaborating online is now considered routine. All of these things have required workers to adapt to new methods, new technology, and new ways of thinking. 

Think about all the ways you've had to adapt in the past and be prepared to showcase how well you can go with the flow during your next interview. 

8. Active listening

Everyone loves a good listener. It shouldn't be hard to do, but for many people it's a struggle - especially in a remote environment. Active listening is more than just listening intently; the active listener shows that they're engaged in the conversation by saying little things like, “Okay,” or “I understand,” and nodding. It also means asking questions, making eye contact, and withholding judgment. 

It can be all too easy to become disengaged from your sixth video conference of the day or that morning check-in call before you've had your coffee. If you're uncertain what it really means to be an active listener, do a little research and practice it at home with your family or friends (they'll appreciate it, too). Then, during your interview, let your active listening skills shine as you engage with your interviewer. 

9. Leadership

While creativity, communication skills, a growth mindset, emotional intelligence, and collaboration are all relevant skills that can make you a great employee, leadership skills will elevate you even further. Most employers and hiring managers are always looking for someone who is capable of growing beyond that role.

Leadership skills are really a combination of all the other soft skills. When you put them together, you have a person who can not only work well with the team but also take the reins and make the rest of the team better.

If you've been in charge of big projects in the past, bring that out in your resume and mention it in job interviews. Show that you're not someone who is just looking to punch in and punch out, but an applicant who is ready to conquer this job and grow into a future leader within the company; that makes you an attractive investment for them.

Showcase the soft skills employers want to see

Think of your soft skills as accessories to your hard, job-related skills. They alone cannot qualify you for a job, but when paired with solid credentials they can make you a much more attractive candidate. As you review your soft skills, keep in mind how the last few years have changed the playing field and highlight those that will help you shine in the “new normal” work environment. 

From cashier to construction worker to CEO, soft skills are universally needed in today's workforce. Learn to cultivate yours and display them for employers to see - and you'll keep yourself ahead of the pack.

Are the soft skills employers want to see highlighted on your resume? Check today with a free resume review! 

This article was originally written by Tyler Omoth and updated by Ken Chase in 2023.

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