The Soft Skills That Really Make You a More Attractive Candidate

Fact: the employment market is solid right now and employers are looking to hire within almost all levels of their organization.

Fact: a tremendous amount of competition still exists for most open positions within companies, especially those at the highest levels.

According to a report published by Glassdoor in 2015, any given corporate job opening attracts upwards of 250 applicants. That’s you and 249 other people. Ultimately, only one person gets hired, so how good do you believe your chances are?

That’s why you must do everything you can to stand out during the hiring process and make yourself a top candidate. I’ve stated this over and over again in my newsletter articles, blog posts, and webinars: you are NOT competing for a job in a vacuum.

You are competing against other people, and according to the Glassdoor report, you may be competing against a lot of other people. Consequently, it makes the most sense to not only prepare for the hiring process as much as possible, but also to make yourself as attractive as possible.

Hard vs. soft

There are basically two types of skills that organizations look for in potential employees. Those types are hard skills and soft skills. Before we go any further, let’s define these two terms.

Hard skills possess the following two characteristics:

  1. They are teachable skills, which means that you can learn them. You can either teach yourself, other people can teach you, or both.
  2. They are quantifiable. This means they produce quantifiable results and you can be graded and/or evaluated for your ability.

Soft skills, on the other hand, refer to skills that involve the way you interact with other people, specifically your boss and co-workers. Soft skills are also referred to in other ways, one of which is “people skills,” which you’ve probably heard before.

For the purposes of this blog post, we’re going to focus on soft skills. Specifically, we’re going to focus on transferable soft skills. Transferrable soft skills are those that can be applied to a number of different areas within a specific industry, and they can even be transferred from one career to another. That’s not to say that you’re looking to get out of your current career field, but if transferable soft skills have that kind of power, then how much could they help your current career?

The short answer: a LOT. (Don’t worry, I’ll elaborate on that short answer.)

Set of four core skills

The real-world application could not be simpler. If you and another candidate are vying for the same position, and both of you have approximately the same level of hard skills and the same amount of experience, soft skills will break the tie. Actually, transferable soft skills will really break the tie, since they make you even more valuable as an employee.

The goal, of course, is to amass and/or sharpen as many transferable soft skills as you can. They make you more valuable to your current employer and they will make you a more attractive candidate to other organizations once you make the next move in your career. Below are four transferable soft skills that will do just that.

#1—Communication

The ability to communicate well is not just a valued skill in the employment marketplace; it’s a cherished skill. That’s because miscommunication can be a destructive force within the workplace. All it takes is one miscommunication between two people to derail a project or kill a deal. And I’m not just talking about, well, talking. Being proficient in ALL forms of communication is essential to increasing your worth and value as an employee and a candidate. So yes, that means written communication, as well as the various forms of non-verbal communication.

#2—Time management

The ability to maximize your time (not to mention the time of others) is an extremely valuable skill. That means you get more done in less time. Employers want to hire people who get more done in less time. That equates to higher levels of production, which in turn equates to higher levels of revenue and ultimately higher levels of profit. (And that’s exactly how you tie a skill or trait directly to a potential employer’s bottom line.)

#3—Sales (or more accurately, the art of persuasion)

No, this does not mean that you can work in a sales role, where you actually sell things and earn a sales commission. However, the ability to “sell” something is valuable, no matter where you work or your position. Basically, this boils down to the ability to make other people see your point of view on a subject. No matter what industry or field in which you work, ideas are bought and sold on a daily basis. If you possess the ability to persuade other people, then you possess value that other people do not.

#4—Leadership

Okay, not everybody is a leader. If everybody was a leader, then nobody would be a leader. You’ve probably heard this saying before: “Too many chiefs and not enough Indians.” Or maybe this one: “There are too many cooks in the kitchen.” Organizations need leaders, and they need them at all levels. They want to hire them, grow them from within, do whatever they need to do to get them. Specifically, though, they need genuine leaders . . . not people who think they’re a leader but who really are not.

How do you stack up in these four areas? What other soft skills do you possess? Have you ever conducted an honest self-assessment of your soft skill set? If not, then there’s no time like the present.

You’re competing against a lot of people in your quest to grow your career and derive more satisfaction from it. You need every edge that you can get, and that edge could very well be your soft skill set. A search professional can help you to more accurately assess your skills and your candidacy in the marketplace.

Your relationship with a search consultant can be the most important professional relationship you have in your career. Reach out to an experienced and successful search consultant/recruiter in your chosen field and position yourself to enjoy more career success than you thought possible.

We help support careers in one of two ways: 1. By helping to find the right opportunity when the time is right, and 2. By helping to recruit top talent for the critical needs of organizations. If this is something you would like to explore further, please send an email to stacy@thevetrecruiter.com.