Apr 3, 2012

WOW Word of the Week: SOFT SKILLS

Summary: Do you have the soft skills it takes to compete—and win—in today's business world? Find out what soft skills are and how to get them today.

This week's WOW is really a POW—a Phrase of the Week: soft skills.

 According to its Wikipedia definition, soft skills refers to a specific set of abilities that are often innate, but can be learned.

Let me repeat that: these skills can be learned. They just may take more time to learn than your traditional hard job skills.

What's the difference between "hard skills" and "soft skills"? Great question! So glad you asked.

Hard skills are things like typing, data input, computer programming, computer program usage, even memorizing sales scripts. They're the day-to-day duties you list in your résumé that help you land the job—or the ones you learned and practiced while on the job. Soft skills, by contrast, are things like crafting an appropriate email message that resonates with your client; training others to use company-wide computer and data systems; and incorporating the bottom line points of a sales script into your own, authentic language. They are the little extra flourishes you put in your résumé's objective or cover letter to ensure you land the job (and get along with your co-workers and employers)—things like "people person," "great listener" and "works well on a team." Here's more:

1. "Soft skills are personal attributes that enhance an individual's interactions, job performance and career prospects" and are "broadly applicable both in and outside the work place." (Wikipedia)

2. "Screening or training for" these types of skills "can yield significant return on investment for an organization." Studies have proven this to be true. (Wikipedia et. al.)

3. It's been suggested they're more important long-term than hard skills, or the occupational skill sets that can be more readily taught and learned—and even remembered by rote. (Wikipedia, KiKi Productions Inc. Communications Coaching et. al.)

4. Whereas "hard skills" are typically related to one's IQ, soft skills relate to your EQ, or your emotional intelligence quotient. (Wiki, KiKi)

5. Some of the top soft skills that employers look for can be found in this article.  (AOL Jobs)

Here are a list of soft skills that I teach my clients daily:

communication skills
conflict resolution
creative problem solving
strategic thinking/enhanced focus
icebreakers/cold calling
sales closing
rapport building
team building/team goal setting
personal goal setting & achievement
time management/effective appointment setting

Join me in the campaign to add this fabulous phrase, soft skills, to the dictionary—or at least the open/slang dictionary at Merriam-Webster.com. Click the link, submit the phrase and credit the article or blog entry of your choice!

And to add some much-needed soft skills to your own repertoire and résumé—or to improve your soft skill set—consider working with a coach like me or other communications coaches. Google the search term or check out my website to begin your journey to personal and professional improvement.

© KiKi Productions, Inc. 2012

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