Mythbusting: Truth about soft skills in the workplace

March, 09, 2016 by Guest Contributor author workhoppers

There is a misconception of what skills the “ideal freelancer” possesses when looking for freelance work. The myth being that hard skills- the technical ability to perform tasks- determines your success as a freelancer. This is a complete myth and in this article we will reveal the truth about soft skills in the workplace and their importance for a successful freelance career.

soft skills int he workplace

You will need more than hard skills to get the job

Whether you are offering your services on freelancing sites, or doing contract-based work for a company, hard skills such as knowledge of a computer language will qualify you for that Front-End Developer position, but won’t necessarily demonstrate that you are the ideal candidate for the job. On the contrary, your ability to work effectively in a group, use analytical framework, and think critically will distinguish you from other applicants even if they have more experience. So the importance of soft skills in the workplace.

How is this possible when hard skills are what qualify you to do the work required?

The subsequent aspect of this myth is that freelancers, even if they are on contract, are not permanent members of a team or full-time employees of a company and therefore do not need to possess the people skills required to coexist with colleagues or maximize the efficiency of a team on a regular basis. However, demonstrated soft skills in the workplace can be what motivates a client to become a returning customer.

While practical knowledge and experience do indeed fulfill the crucial skills for the job at hand, they are learned skills. Hard skills are obtained through formal education, and experiential learning, where as soft skills require an emotional intelligence that has developed over the course of one’s life and are utilized all of the time as opposed to only during work hours. Keep this in mind when reading job descriptions or before attending an interview and you can determine what soft skills are required in order to successfully perform the tasks at hand.

Here are some of the soft skills required in the workplace to ensure success:

  • Team work

If a job ad requires the candidate to “work in collaboration with others successfully,” the employer is looking for someone who can appreciate the opinions of others even if they disagree, incorporate the best ideas, and mediate conflict that arises without compromising the integrity of the project. Knowing this when meeting with the employer, you can demonstrate these skills by recalling instances in your professional experience where you have had to compromise opposing ideas in order to perform the task or complete the project at hand in the most efficient way possible.

  • Adaptability and effective communication

Another example of common soft skills in the workplace that employers look for are adaptability and effective communication (not just prompt email responses!). Possessing these skills means a certain degree of flexibility and situational awareness is necessary. The ability to determine where a conversation or project may be heading, how a client will respond to an idea or pitch, allows the ideal candidate to prepare an adequate response, whether it’s an alternative or a compromise. This can mean the difference between having a good relationship with a client who contracts you for your services in the future, or a one-time, poorly received project that doesn’t help your professional reputation.

  • Cross-functionality

The ability to work on different tasks in various departments is useful to have as a freelancer when building a client base. If you are able to solve more than one problem, there is a greater likelihood that a client will contract you for future projects because of your skill variety.

  • Cultural fit

Whether a potential candidate shares the companies’ core values and can adapt easily to collective behaviors can determine how efficiently the project will get done and whether you can provide the product or service that is needed. A complementary soft skill to this would be adaptability.

  • Positive attitude

While realism is necessary when solving a problem or predicting the outcome of a project, having a positive demeanor and remaining confident about the result impacts the attitudes of your collaborators.  Having the ability to boost morale is an incredible asset to have as a freelancer because it allows you to steer a project in a different direction, and also stay positive about your own contributions.

As a company recruiting freelancers, don’t forget to check soft skills required to succeed in the workplace.

And if you are looking to hire top talented freelancers if your city ….

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