Soft skills - what are they and do you have them?

career development, career advice

If you’re thinking of looking for a new job then adding some valuable skills to your CV is a sure-fire way to make you stand out.It doesn't have to cost you any money and you can do it from the comfort of your own home! Making time for learning new skills can help towards building a great CV and a fantastic set of skills to make any employer take a second look at your application.

Whilst hard skills, like maths reading and moremeasurable skills are very important, soft skills play an important part in the majority of social care roles. Dealing with vulnerable people requires great communication skills, decision making and working autonomously. Soft skills refer to the personal attributes that dictate how you interact with other people. In other words, your inter-personal skills. Most job descriptions that you'll see these days include lines such as 'must work well with others' and 'has a strong work ethic'. In social care these are all the more important as you are often delivering one-on-one care to individuals. So which are the most important and what do they really mean?

Communication skills
Communication skills are to do with relationship building, from building a rapport through the service you are delivering to supporting relationships with your peers. It also refers to how well you can express yourself both verbally and in written forms like emails and in reports. This is often the top soft skill needed for a social care role.

Decision Making Skills
Making decisions at work isn't as easy as it might sound. What employers are looking for here is how you deal with situations and come to a decision. When you are in a certain situation and you need to think on your feet, you need to demonstrate how you think on your feet and how you cope in stressful situations. 

Self Motivation
Self motivated or self-starter are words you'll see liberally sprinkling many job adverts. They mean employees who don't need much supervision and can be counted on to keep going through their work. Being self-motivated also makes you more resilient and able to adapt to change which can be important in social care when each day can be different from the last.

Leadership Skills
These are the skills that you need to lead a team. From communicating with them to being an effective leader, you'll need these skills if you ever lead a team or when you take a step up to management.

Team-Working skills
Working as part of a team isn't always easy, and being able to play to your strengths in a group is an invaluable skill to have. These skills are really important if you're working in a  group of other people across different organisations, and it's great to be able to demonstrate that you can come into your own in this setting.

So, how can you demonstrate these on your CV and in an interview?

Examples of your work
Have examples of how you've demonstrated key soft skills in your work. Think about the challenge you were faced with, your action and the end result to show your thinking.

Have answers ready
You're likely to be asked a question (or something similar) along the lines of tell me about a time when you struggled to complete a project or tell me about a time when you failed. The most important thing to remember here is that your interviewer isn't looking for someone with a perfect record of success, they're looking for someone who can demonstrate self-motivation in the face of failure. They want to see that you can pick yourself up and work with a team to fix the problem, so make sure you've got an example ready to go.

Check, check and check again
Any job application process will involve the written word. From CVs to Covering Letters and emails, you'll be in constant communication with your recruiter or hiring manager as you progress through the hiring process. Make sure that all of your communications are clear, precise and don't contain any spelling mistakes or typos.