If you’re applying as a graphic designer, you know very well that your exceptional proficiency in Photoshop, Illustrator, and Premiere takes you a step closer to getting hired. After all, they’re looking for technical skills, right?
Still, keep in mind that you’re not gonna be working alone in your mini cubbyhole with a laptop. You’re going to collaborate with other creative people in the workplace. You’ll work under a supervisor. You’ll have clients to please.
That said, these remarkable technical skills of yours may not be enough to retain you in that position if you lack communication and problem-solving skills, and if you’re not a good team player.
You need to possess certain personal attributes that enable you to interact effectively and efficiently with other people.
These underrated proficiencies are called soft skills. Unlike hard skills, they are intangible and hard to quantify.
Soft skills employers seek, including analytic thinking, communication, and leadership, aren’t directly taught in classrooms – they are developed through years of practice and experience.
If you want to shine in whatever field you are in, here are 7 indispensable soft skills you need to develop.
1. Communication and Interpersonal Skills
Having a brilliant mind isn’t enough – you should also be able to express the creative ideas in your head fluently and clearly.
The ability to communicate effectively is never overrated. Workers with excellent communication skills, both written and oral, tend to be more productive.
If you know how to express your thoughts clearly, you can present the who, what, where, when, why, and how of a project in a way everybody understands. You ask and answer relevant questions confidently.
In addition to voicing out your ideas, good communication skills help you establish valuable relationships with your colleagues and the heads of the organization. They set the tone for how you are perceived.
If you want to hone your communication and presentation skills, you can sign up for public speaking and personality development workshops. Apart from the content, the way you deliver your message also matters.
Practice your speaking skills, including the clarity and enunciation of your words. Pay attention to your non-verbal skills as well, like making eye contact, practicing positive facial expressions, watching your mannerisms, and maintaining good posture.
2. Team Player Skills
Teamwork is the art of collaborating with others efficiently. In a firm, although you perform a bulk of your job independently, you never work alone – you work with other creative people toward a common goal.
Employers expect their workers to be good team players. While getting the work done and contributing fairly is expected of you as a team player, you should also be willing to take risks, step outside of your comfort zone, and do more than what is asked to boost the strength of the team.
If one member fails to contribute, it could pose a threat to the team, so employers look for someone reliable, hard-working, flexible, and can work well both alone and with others.
3. Problem-solving Skills
Let’s say you are a graphic designer. Just a few finishing touches and you’re done with the project you worked on for three days. Everything is going well – then your faulty computer crashed.
You weren’t able to save the file. You tried to recover it but it’s not backed up successfully. You can either dig your head under the ground and cry about it or get yourself together and take action.
Problem-solving is a skill that borders on hard and soft. Knowing how to think on your feet and turn a mishap into an achievement can make you a valuable asset to any company.
Problem solvers are seen as top performers, as unexpected challenges come and employers need fast thinkers to move forward.
4. Critical Thinking Skills
Critical thinking refers to the objective analysis of data to form a judgment or determine the most effective way to get to an end goal.
Companies need critical thinkers – the people who bring a fresh perspective, new ideas, and intuitive solutions to help the company improve internal processes or become a step ahead of their competitors.
5. Time Management Skills
It’s not just about being an expert at juggling several different tasks at the same time – it’s about efficiency, and doing as much under pressure without sacrificing the quality of work put on each task.
Productivity is a direct result of effective time management. No wonder why time management, in today’s fast-paced world, is as precious as technical skills.
6. Adaptability Skills
The speed of change in any given workplace is so fast. Timelines shift forward. Other people around you don’t always follow or meet your expectations, affecting the deadline. Budgets cut. The clients are inconsiderate. Bad weather adds weight to the already dreadful situation.
No matter how good you are with organizing your time, you can never run away from the inevitable. With this, you have to have the ability to flow with the industry shifts and be as flexible as possible when problems arise. You should always have a plan B, C, D, and so on.
7. Leadership Skills
Leadership isn’t about making your subordinates do whatever you want. The core of leadership is to help others develop and reach their full potential. To be a leader is to have the confidence and the vision to influence your co-workers to get them on board.
Leadership skills not only helps you win more opportunities for promotions and salary increases – they increase your visibility in an organization. Employers are always on the lookout for workers with leadership potential who will one day be taking over them and building the company’s legacy.
“Soft skills are a key to building relationships, gaining visibility, and creating more opportunities for advancement,” says Kathy Robinson, founder of Boston career-coaching firm TurningPoint.
It is the soft skills that bring your performance to life, thus are crucial to your job search and long-term career.