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What are soft skills and how can they support your professional development?

Do you know what soft skills are? How about the ones employers value the most? Learn all about the skills that can boost your career!

A professional working and using soft skills

In an increasingly complex and competitive job market, technical skills alone are not enough for those who wish to stand out. Soft skills have been increasingly more valued by companies and recruiters.

That doesn’t mean they no longer evaluate the technical skills of professionals, but you can’t focus only on that.

Are you still unsure about what soft skills are, and how you can develop and demonstrate them when job hunting? Read on and learn more about them!

What are soft skills?

Soft skills are the behavioral skills that we develop throughout life. So, they are quite subjective and personal.

Overall, these skills are acquired during our personal and professional experiences and concern how we relate to people, communicate, and deal with conflicts and challenging situations.

What’s the difference between hard and soft skills?

Hard skills are your technical skills, such as fluency in languages, the mastery of tools, and knowledge about specific areas or subjects. 

These skills can be acquired and proven with diplomas, certificates, and experience records, for example.

Soft skills, on the other hand, being personal characteristics, are harder to learn in courses and training. But that doesn’t mean it can’t happen! 

Generally, our own experience helps us build and strengthen our soft skills, but there are ways to develop those that, for some reason, we haven’t developed well throughout our lives. 

The difference is that this requires increased dedication and time; after all, we aren’t talking about learning how to work with software. In this case, we would have access to practical and detailed step-by-step instructions. In the case of soft skills, you need to:

  • Do a self-evaluation;
  • Recognize your strengths and weaknesses;
  • Observe people who have the skills you want to develop;
  • Reflect on how you communicate and what your interpersonal relationships are like, in addition to many other aspects.

Why are soft skills so important for your career?

The market is undergoing transformations that greatly change how people work.

According to estimates by the World Economic Forum, by 2025, 85 million jobs might be replaced, while 97 million new roles, better adapted to the division of labor between humans and technology, may emerge.

Innovations such as artificial intelligence, big data, and many other technologies and automation are taking over tasks that are more technical and mechanical. 

However, this doesn’t mean that people will no longer have jobs, rather that they’ll need to reinvent themselves and develop their soft skills to take on increasingly strategic roles focused on management and problem-solving. 

It will be necessary (and it already is), to live and work with machines and robots in increasingly diverse, technological, and even remote environments, which cannot be performed with quality without developing social and emotional skills. 

In other words, everyone will have to adapt, which includes those who are looking for their first job, making a career transition, looking for opportunities to grow professionally and even getting into digital entrepreneurship.

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Professionals need to show they are ready to face the new challenges the job market has to offer, and soft skills can help you get there.  

Below, we have listed 9 crucial soft skills you need to excel in your career!

The 9 Most In-Demand Soft Skills

1. Creativity

Dealing with an environment in constant transformation and sharing the workspace with so many technological resources requires creativity to propose innovative solutions.

Also, it’s generally more difficult (or even impossible) for jobs in creative areas to be taken over by technology.

After all, creativity feeds off our experiences and knowledge accumulated over the years.

So, recruiters are looking for highly qualified people with personal and professional experience that will help the business keep up with technological evolution and stand out in the market.

2. Persuasion

Being persuasive is great not only for those who work in sales, but also for positions related to people management, marketing, and customer relations in general.

Not everyone knows how to persuade people to understand the importance and value of products, services, and ideas. And it’s easy to do.

So, persuasion is a valuable skill for anyone looking to excel professionally and take on new challenges.

3. Teamwork

Working environments are becoming increasingly diverse and this is extremely beneficial not only for business but for professionals.

However, bringing such different people together in the same team is a challenge that companies have to face.

No wonder teamwork is another soft skill that has been highly sought-after by companies.

Knowing how to work collaboratively involves maintaining good relationships with colleagues, respecting differences, contributing to the growth of others, and being willing to learn from other people and points of view.

4. Adaptability

Remember the World Economic Forum estimate we mentioned earlier? Forecasts indicate that in less than 5 years, how we work will change profoundly!

But this isn’t new, is it? These changes have been happening for a long time, and the Covid-19 pandemic has only accelerated some processes.

Given this scenario, professionals need to adapt easily and be more proactive

After all, it will be increasingly important to be able to adapt to new routines, processes, and technologies, and to propose new strategies and solutions.

Society’s demands are becoming more fluid, and companies need people who can handle change well and adapt to different roles and environments to meet these needs.

5. Time management

To be more productive and efficient, you also need to develop your time management skills.

That doesn’t mean doing everything quickly, but knowing how to prioritize tasks, optimize activities, and organize your schedule to deliver everything required, with quality and on time.

Professionals who don’t know how to manage their time well may find it difficult to manage several projects simultaneously, which is becoming a frequent market requirement.

6. Flexibility

Flexible professionals cope better with changes in the work environment, processes, and even the world and the market in general.

Companies are restructuring how they operate, adopting flexible rules, remote work, more autonomy regarding work hours and ways of working, and leadership that is becoming more humanized and horizontal.

Professionals who are too rigid and unadaptable may find it harder to fit in and excel in such environments.

Considering that companies that follow traditional processes are increasingly rare, develop your flexibility and ability to adapt to constant change to advance in your career.

7. Resilience

Especially during periods marked by transformation and disruption, it’s difficult to achieve good results without a team that knows how to face adversity and move forward even under unfavorable conditions.

This is precisely what being resilient means, which is the ability to face and overcome crises.

Resilient people are able to face difficult situations with assertiveness, devising strategies to minimize damage, and reinventing themselves whenever necessary.

This skill has become increasingly sought after by recruiters, and it isn’t always easy to find in professionals.

8. Leadership

The trend is that operational positions will become more and more automated, and leadership and management positions will grow and become increasingly strategic for the business.

So, one of the most valued soft skills now, is the ability to lead people.

In this case, we aren’t merely talking about having a team, defining processes and giving orders.

Being a leader means:

  • Having empathy;
  • Knowing how to communicate;
  • Motivating people;
  • Making sure people on your team have the necessary tools, resources, and knowledge to perform their duties;
  • Leading by example;
  • Engaging everyone around you in the company’s activities and culture.

9. Negotiating 

Think about all the negotiations required in order to carry out a single task. Deadlines, amounts, delivery format, resources…

Whether you’re leading a team, working with colleagues, talking to customers, managing your own business, or hiring services and suppliers, you will need to negotiate.

The integration of technology in the various work environments, despite having numerous benefits, also contributes to making everything that used to be urgent become, “I need this yesterday”.

Neither you nor your company will be able to meet so many demands without evaluating the possibilities, relaxing conditions, and conducting good negotiations.

So, being a negotiator can open doors to opportunities that are increasingly strategic and important for companies, or even guarantee a more successful entrepreneurial future!

Develop your soft skills and be ready for the future!

Soft skills are critical for professionals who want to stand out in the job market, which is evolving every day.

Technical skills are still very important, but in technological and fast-paced scenarios, they can quickly become outdated.

So, people need to be prepared to upcycle their knowledge, adapt to new processes, and manage crises. We’ll need to learn how to share the workspace with machines, technologies, and people – understanding and dealing with their singularities.

Would you like to learn more about job market trends? Then, check out what the professions of the future are and get ready!

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