We live in an era of rapidly evolving technology, where digitisation and automation are impacting every industry. No workplace is going to look the same in 10 years. But one thing is for sure. While in-demand technical skills will alter over time, several key soft skills will always be keenly sought-after by employers.
Why soft skills are so important
Soft skills shape how you engage with people, how you respond to different situations and how you adapt to change.
What makes soft skills so interesting is that they are valued across different industries and roles, making these skills essential for your career progression no matter which sector you work in — or whether you opt for a change of direction.
Moreover, as soft skills are less technical and less role-specific, they can be carried with you successfully across different roles and workplaces to support long term career growth.
Soft skills won’t just help you land a top role, they can also help you climb the career ladder. Research by Robert Half confirms that 42% of business leaders say a lack of soft skills is a key hurdle in promoting employees.
Five key soft skills
There are plenty of soft skills that employers look for, and they can vary in line with the nature of the business and the seniority of the role.
However, five core soft skills are highly regarded across a variety of positions, and that makes it important to address these skills in your resume and showcase them to the hiring manager.
Technology may be changing the way you communicate with colleagues, clients or customers, but this doesn’t lessen the value of being able to clearly explain ideas and concepts both verbally and in writing.
Even if you work independently or in a small team, the collaborative nature of workplaces means that at some stage you need to communicate with others. It may be as simple as explaining a task or summarising the findings of a lengthy report. Or you may be called on to describe complex technical issues with those from a non-technical background, or to defend your approach to various matters. Whatever the case, good communication is not just clear and succinct, it is also diplomatic and respectful.
A hiring manager will want to be assured that no matter whether you’re dealing with the office junior or the CEO, you will know what to say and how to say it.
One way to display communications skills in your resume is to describe yourself as: An articulate communicator who can engage, inform and motivate clients, coworkers and business leaders.
- Problem-solving abilities
Finding innovative answers to the challenges faced by your team — or the business more broadly, lie at the heart of excellent problem-solving skills.
The ability to find effective solutions even when deadlines are tight or you have limited resources, is highly valued by employers, and it can set you apart from other candidates. It demonstrates creativity, persistence, innovation and dedication as well as the capacity to think outside the square.
Highlight your problem-solving skills in your resume by offering examples of when you have encountered a problem, describe the steps you took to resolve the issue — and provide measurable results. Something as simple as “I was able to reduce the time taken to provide monthly reports by two working days” will demonstrate that you not only solved a problem, but in doing so you added value to the company.
In today’s business environment nothing stands still for long, and hiring managers want to be confident that you can cope with — and even relish — change. Demonstrating adaptability shows that you can handle the inevitable curve balls, and this can make you an obvious choice to be involved in special projects.
Showcase your adaptability in your resume by providing examples of different projects you have worked on, how you have handled new technology, and ways in which you have challenged conventional ways of thinking to deliver efficiencies.
In modern Hong Kong workplaces it’s almost a certainty that you will need to work as part of a team. That means a key criterion for selection can be your ability to collaborate with others.
A hiring manager will want to know that you can liaise with a variety of different personalities — and do it effectively. No matter what size the organisation is, it cannot function smoothly and successfully if employees work independently. Success calls for employees to engage, debate, share skills, exchange ideas and knowledge and integrate resources to get the job done.
Highlight your teamwork capabilities by citing the size of the team you are currently part of, and explain that while you enjoy working independently, you thrive as part of a team that is working towards common goals.
5. Willingness to learn
As change is a constant in Hong Kong’s commercial world, your enthusiasm for learning and growth can help you stand out from other candidates. Of course you should imply your loyalty to employers while also highlighting your willingness to expand your skill set.
Demonstrate your willingness to learn by noting in your resume any opportunities you have seized to enhance your skills such as participating in internal or external training, job shadowing or mentoring.
In a rapidly evolving business world, your soft skills can mean more to a hiring manager than technical proficiency. Don’t be shy about showcasing your soft skills and how they have benefited previous employers. It could help you stand out as a well-rounded candidate who can bring real value to the company.