How to Improve Your Soft Skills

Cartoon of people sitting around a table.

No matter your job, your manager, coworkers, and customers will appreciate you having a healthy balance of soft skills and hard skills.

There are three steps to improve your soft skills:
1. Identify your existing soft skills
2. Brainstorm additional skills you’ll need
3. Practice new skills until you feel confident

Identify your existing soft skills

When working on your resume or writing about your work experience, don’t forget to highlight your skill sets. A hiring manager will look for certain hard and soft skills that would give you a competitive edge. 

Hard skills are specific types of knowledge or training. Soft skills are more personality based. Your goal should be to highlight a combination of hard and soft skills when you apply to a job.

How to assess your own soft skills

  1. Reflect on previous experiences: Think about situations where you’ve demonstrated certain qualities or abilities. These might include communication, collaboration, problem solving, adaptability, or leadership.
  2. Ask for feedback: Reach out to coworkers, supervisors, or mentors and ask for their input. After all, they’re the ones that have seen you work!
  3. Review your accomplishments. Think about things you’re proud of achieving and reflect on what you did to get there. For example, if you successfully completed a challenging project, think about the soft skills you used, such as organization, time management, or teamwork.
  4. Assess your preferences and tendencies: Consider the tasks or activities that you enjoy and naturally gravitate towards. Reflect on the skills you rely on to excel in those areas. For instance, if you enjoy mentoring others, you may have strong leadership and communication skills.
  5. Review professional feedback: Look back at any performance evaluations or feedback you have received from past employers, supervisors, or clients. These evaluations often have tons of information about your strengths and areas for improvement, both of which can reveal soft skills.
  6. Take an online quiz: There are many online quizzes available to help you find your soft skills. Just remember to take them with a grain of salt! A written result likely doesn’t equal a real world experience.
  7. Do a self assessment: Make note of your strengths in areas like communication, teamwork, critical thinking, flexibility, leadership, and emotional intelligence. 

Examples of hard skills vs soft skills

If you often work manual labor and warehousing jobs, your hard skills might include a forklift certification while your soft skills could be that you are organized and communicate effectively with your team.

If you work in cashier or customer service positions, your hard skills may include training in POS (point-of-sale) systems while your soft skills could be that you are a great people-person with a sunny disposition.

How to develop your hard and soft skills

Now that you have given some thought to your acquired toolbox, it’s time to push yourself a step further and really sharpen your skills. Bernard Marr wrote for Forbes, “There’s only one way to remain relevant in a post-coronavirus reality: commit to a lifetime of learning.”

To adapt to the constantly changing nature of the job market, you should always be thinking about how you can improve yourself and your skills. Luckily, the pandemic pushed a lot of educational and developmental resources online, so you can sharpen your skills from the comfort and safety of your own home.

Skill improvement resources

  • Acadium – Apprentice under a mentor and gain new skills, work experience, and industry relationships.
  • Coursera – Build skills with courses from top universities like Yale, Michigan, Stanford, and leading companies like Google and IBM.
  • edX – Access 2000 free online courses from 140 leading institutions worldwide. Gain new skills and earn a certificate of completion.
  • LinkedIn Learning – LinkedIn’s community and resources are here to help you learn relevant skills, find jobs that are in-demand, and stand out to recruiters.
  • Skillshare – Skillshare is a learning platform with online classes taught by the world’s best practitioners.
  • Udemy – Udemy is an online learning and teaching marketplace with over 100000 courses and 24 million students.

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