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Soft Skills That Top Companies Look for Now

Soft Skills That Top Companies Look for Now

When applying for jobs, most of us focus heavily on hard skills. These are the skills that are quantifiable and measurable, like having a certain qualification, increasing sales by X% in your last job, or being able to speak a foreign language.

While these hard skills are important, soft skills, also known as ‘people skills’, are often just as valuable.

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Consider this scenario: You’ve been hired by a company because you’re a skilled computer programmer with a range of qualifications and a great track record. However, you can’t take criticism without getting angry and lashing out at coworkers. Will you last long in the job? Probably not.

Now imagine a programmer who isn’t quite as skilled as you, but is calm, polite, responds well to criticism and solves problems without a fuss. Even though their hard skills aren’t quite as good as yours, they’re much more likely to have a successful career with this company.

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Soft skills matter. Find out how to improve yours below.

The ability to manage conflicts skilfully

Managing conflict is a really important soft skill, particularly if you work in a customer-facing role. Whether you’re dealing with an angry co-worker or an irritated customer, the principles are the same. Stay calm, listen to what the person has to say, show that you understand their point of view, and then propose a solution. Be prepared to compromise if necessary, but don’t let others intimidate you.

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Problem solving abilities

Problems are a fact of life, and being able to solve them makes you extremely valuable to your employer. You can improve your problem solving skills by recalling problems you’ve encountered in the past and reflecting on how you dealt with them. Take the positive things you did and try to repeat them next time something goes wrong. Stay vigilant against recurring issues, like getting overwhelmed by small things or feeling angry when you can’t fix something straight away.

A lot of communication skills

Every job involves communication, so it’s worth taking some time to get this one right. Here are some key communication skills that will help you no matter what your role is:

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  • Active listening. Pay full attention to the person speaking to you, making eye contact, facing towards them, and asking thoughtful questions to show that you’re engaged.
  • Express ideas clearly. Plan carefully before you explain an idea to someone, and try to be as concise as possible. Don’t ramble or include irrelevant information. This is important whether you’re speaking on the phone, face-to-face or via email.
  • Be open-minded. You won’t agree with everyone you meet at work, and that’s okay. Try to stay open and understanding of others at all times to avoid unnecessary conflict or misunderstandings.
  • Confidence. If you believe in what you’re saying, other people will too. Try using positive affirmations, practicing your public speaking on friends and family, and recalling past successes to increase your confidence.

Critical thinking

Being able to critically evaluate information is an essential soft skill. It’s the difference between an employee who reports a problem to their boss and then forgets all about it, and an employee who sees an issue and immediately starts looking for solutions. Looking critically at successes is important too – they could give you ideas on how to grow and improve even further.

Ability to deal with and adapt to changes

Nothing stays the same forever. Be prepared to deal with workplace changes and life will feel much easier. Try to view all change in a positive light, no matter how bad it seems. Maybe being fired will lead to a great new job? Or making a big mistake might show you how you can improve your skills for the future? Every cloud has a silver lining.

Don’t get so caught up in qualifications and experience that you forget to hone your soft skills. These transferable skills will be helpful no matter where your career takes you.

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Eloise Best

Eloise is an everyday health expert and runs My Vegan Supermarket, a vegan blog and database of supermarket products.

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Last Updated on May 7, 2019

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Work in any competitive field long enough, and you’re bound to run into a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s a powerful image. A shepherd watches over his flock to protect them from harm. He’d chase away any predator that tried to make its way into the flock. A clever wolf wearing the skin of a sheep as a disguise can sneak by the vigilant shepherd and get into the herd undetected.

The story isn’t just a colorful description–it’s a warning to all of us to beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing. They may seem innocent, but they have ulterior motives. They’ll use different tactics to camouflage their intentions.

The person who is kind to you, but undercuts you when you aren’t around is a wolf in disguise. A wolf in sheep’s clothing might pick your brain for ideas and then pass them off as their own to get a promotion. They’re always looking out for themselves at the expense of everyone around them.

Wearing a Disguise Has Its Advantages

People don’t go out of their way to manipulate others unless they’re getting something out of it. Hiding their intentions gives wolves the chance to manipulate other people to advance their own agenda. They know that what they’re trying to do wouldn’t be popular, or it might cause struggle if they presented themselves honestly.

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    They’ll be able to do what they want with less interference if they put on an act. By the time people figure out their true motives, the wolf has what it wants.

    Signs That Someone Is a Wolf in Disguise

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        1. They live to take power instead of empowering others. A wolf uses people as stepping stones to get the things that they want. They don’t care what happens to anyone else.[1] A wolf at work might make you look bad during a presentation to make themselves look amazing in front of the boss.
        2. Wolves seem sweet on the outside, but they’ll show you their teeth. If wolves revealed their true identity, people wouldn’t associate with them. They develop a friendly or kind persona, but they can’t keep up the act 24/7. Eventually, they’ll reveal their aggressive tendencies. A wealthy person who likes to break the law may make sizable charitable donations to convince people that they are kind and thoughtful. These donations largely keep them out of trouble, but if someone calls them out, they destroy that person’s reputation to stifle the criticism.
        3. They manipulate through emotions to get what they want. Wolves know that they can get ahead by appealing to your emotions. They find out what you want and need, and they give you just enough to keep you quiet and compliant. Imagine that your boss is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and you want to ask for a vacation. She might try to play on your guilt and feelings of insecurity to get you to skip vacation or take fewer days off.
        4. A wolf will charm you first. Wolves are experts at manipulating the people around them. They appear interested in whatever you’re doing, and you’ll get the impression that they care. After they get you where they want you, they do just enough to keep you on the hook. This is the coworker who may start out being your friend, but they end up dumping responsibility onto you. When they see that you are growing frustrated, they’ll surprise you with something to charm you some more. Then, they’ll continue to do whatever they want.
        5. Their stories are full of holes.  Calling a wolf out is the surest way to make them squirm. When this person tries to come up with a story, it won’t make much sense because they are improvising.[2] The classic example of this is the significant other that you suspect has cheated on you. When you ask them why they came home so late, they’ll either become upset with you, or they’ll make up a weak explanation.

        How to Spot a Wolf

          Know What’s Real So You Can Spot the Phony

          Do some homework so that you have as much of the story as possible before you work with them. Research how they respond in certain situations, or give them hypothetical problems to see how they respond.

          A job applicant might tell you that she’s always positive and thinks of herself as a team-player. That’s what every employer wants to hear. During the interview you ask applicants to work in groups to solve a problem to see how they handle the situation. The applicant “positive team-player” is bossy and negative. You’ve spotted the wolf.

          A wolf will tell you something that ultimately benefits them. Gather evidence that proves or disproves their position, and see what happens. Chances are, when you choose the side that supports their agenda, they’ll act like your best friend. If you disagree, they’ll become aggressive.

          Spotting a potential wolf–especially if you are one of the sheep–can present you with some challenges. If your gut tells you that a wolf is lurking among all the other sheep, pay attention, and make sure you take the next step.

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          Ask Questions, the More the Better

          There’s nothing wrong with asking questions to uncover the truth. The safety of everyone in your group is at risk. Since wolves often make up stories, you may be able to call them out when their tales lack details.

          When they state an opinion, ask “Why do you think that?” or “How do you know it’s like that?” They’ll have trouble coming up with enough information to pull off the lie.

          Since wolves are always pretending to be something they aren’t, they don’t usually have a clearly thought-out reason for what they say. In a debate, they won’t understand the root of an issue.

          They may also tell you what they think you want to hear, but when pressed for more information, they won’t have anything to add. Their knowledge is superficial. No matter how much you try to encourage discussion, they will not be able to carry on a conversation about the subject.

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          Wolves Are Everywhere

          As much as we want to believe that everyone has the best intentions, it isn’t always the case. Some people only do things to benefit themselves, and they don’t care who they hurt in the process.

          Wolves in sheep’s clothing can be found in almost every setting. You can’t get rid of them, but if you can spot them, you can avoid falling into their traps.

          Reference

          [1] Association of Biblical Counselors: Three Ways to Spot a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
          [2] Power of Positivity: Beware of a wolf in sheep’s clothing

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