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Social Skills Employers Need

June 26th, 2015

Social and interpersonal skills (once referred to as “soft” skills) are considered a critical aspect of success in almost every industry. And as it happens, some of these skills are harder to find than others. Mangers often sift through huge stacks of resumes and interview an exhaustive list of candidates before they come across one or two who can offer the level of social savvy, empathy, and communication skill required by a given open position.

But among these crucial skill sets, which ones are considered the most valuable? And if you possess these abilities, how can you make this clear to employers during your job search? Here are a few tips and considerations to keep in mind.

Written and spoken communication skills are indispensable.

The ability to read and write an email, give instructions, receive instructions, explain a complex situation, or listen as someone else offers a similar explanation are required skills in the modern workplace. And while almost every one of us can do these things, some employees can execute these tasks at a higher level. As far as possible, work to become one of the employees in this rare group. Practice your writing, reading, speaking, and listening skills at every opportunity.

Show, don’t just tell.

If you excel in the areas of written communication or document design, you can mention this directly in your resume (and are wise to do so). But our actions always speak louder than our words, and the best way to send this message is by creating an absolutely show-stopping resume and cover letter. Get help from a professional resume editor if necessary, but keep in mind that your word choices, your layout decisions, and your attention to detail will speak for themselves.

The interview table will be your stage.

The same rule applies to your in-person interview. Nothing sends a weaker message than a candidate who avoids eye contact and mumbles an inarticulate statement like, “I’m great with people” or “I’m an excellent speaker.” By the same token, if you sit up straight, speak with confidence, and practice your elevator pitch until you can recite it in your sleep, then your interviewer won’t even have to ask about your communication skills; they’ll be evident from the moment you walk into the room.

Pause, relax, and think as you speak (or write).

Your communication and interpersonal skills show clearly in your words and expressions…but they also show in your pauses and silences. Communication is a two way street, and empathy and listening skills are a vital element of the equation. Make you’re hearing the messages delivered by others, not just shaping and delivering your own.

For more on how to sharpen and showcase your “soft” skills and communication strengths, reach out to the staffing and career management team at Merritt.


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