What are soft skills?
Soft skills are character traits and personality attributes that impact your ability to work well with others. Employers value soft skills because they affect how you interact with the people you work with, as well as how you approach problems.
10 soft skills you should include in your cover letter or interview
Soft skills are abilities that can’t be taught in classrooms, and because they are so highly valued in the workplace, knowing and highlighting your ‘soft skill’ strengths can be an excellent way to get hired — even if you don’t have enough experience in the industry yet. By showing your soft skills in your job application, cover letter or interview, you can draw attention to all the things that you bring to the table.
When you talk about your soft skills, try to demonstrate the soft skills by providing examples of situations where your soft skill was proven effective and helped you with your job responsibilities. You should ensure that the soft skills you discuss are relevant to the position you’re applying for, and demonstrate your capacity to be an effective team member.
- Communication: The ability to listen well, speak with clarity, and communicate with respect and empathy is very highly regarded in the workplace.
Example response: When I worked for Kmart, I made sure to communicate with my team members, so we were all on the same page. I also made an active effort to listen to team members concerns and helped them out where I could, and this helped our productivity.
- Teamwork: You work well with others, have a knack for conflict management, and take responsibility for your share of the work when collaborating.
Example response: I try to be approachable and receptive to my team members while also being reliable for my tasks. While working for Kmart, I would actively volunteer to help my team when they were very busy even if I had already finished my tasks and I was time for my scheduled break.
- Flexibility: You are adaptable in the workplace and face unexpected challenges with optimism and calm.
Example response: When a new supervisor was hired at Kmart, we had to make changes to our processes. This presented a challenge where we had to adapt to new routines, shift schedules, and learn new technologies. How I overcame this was that, rather than thinking about how much of a hassle it was, I focused on the new opportunities and my chance to learn new skills.
- Self-management: The ability to work well even when you’re unsupervised is a great asset to have in an employee.
Example response: At Kmart, we are often left to work on our tasks independently and I always made sure that I was doing a proper job. This made me a reliable member of the team because I could be counted on and my supervisor’s attention can be placed elsewhere.
- Problem-solving: Great problem solving requires the ability to observe, reason and use creative thinking to overcome hurdles.
Example response: At Kmart, I solved problems by actively listening and understanding what the problem was and providing an appropriate solution. For example, if a customer was upset that we didn’t have stock for a product, rather than just say we’re out of stock, I would volunteer to help them either order the product or check our database to help them find another store with stock.
- Creativity: You are highly imaginative, easily inspired, and open to experimentation. You are also able to think outside of the box to come up with innovative solutions to problems.
Example response: I believe it’s important to think about creative solutions to problems. For example, when a customer was frustrated that we didn’t have stock for a table and that wouldn’t be able to order any in the next month, I proposed a different table instead. Rather than telling her we couldn’t do anything about the lack of stock, I persuaded her by suggesting examples of how she could decorate her living room with what we had available.
- Work ethic: People with strong work ethic understand the importance of work and recognise its ability to strengthen their character. They have integrity and discipline, take responsibility for their actions, and are dependable and loyal.
Example response: When I worked at Kmart, I made sure that I was helping the store reach its monthly benchmarks. To do this, I was productive, showed dedication by always finishing my tasks, and assisted my team members when they needed help.
- Time management: If you have great time management skills, you’ll have the ability to work effectively and productively to reach your goals.
Example response: To help with my time management, I was always punctual and had a schedule to help me manage my day. I would also plan ahead so that I wouldn’t be distracted by non-essential tasks.
- Attention to detail: People with strong attention to detail are extremely thorough and accurate in their work, have great critical observation skills, good recall and are very organised.
Example response: I have great attention to detail, and while I was working at Kmart, I was responsible for checking that our price tags were consistent with our system and catalogue after restocking at night. This was an important role because we needed every price tag to be accurate, so we don’t confuse customers.
- Leadership: A good leader has empathy, selflessness, and the ability to prioritise the needs of the team.
Example response: When I was manager at Kmart, my main role was to delegate tasks and assign team members to different areas across the store. To do this, I built rapport with my team by actively communicating with them, placed them across areas based on their strengths, and was always available for them to voice their concerns.
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