Manners oh manners, where have you gone? I am pretty sure this is what recruiters are asking these days. In fact, I KNOW this is what they are asking. How do I know? In a past life I worked hand in hand with recruiters in order to help college graduates secure jobs. Let me be the one to tell you. That piece of paper (degree) is not a free ticket to any job you want. Sure, most jobs that are worth anything have a degree requirement, but this does not mean that you are a shoe in. There are many other things that employers are looking for in top candidates.

Have you ever heard of soft skills? Maybe, maybe not. Wikipedia says that soft skills are the cluster of personality traits that characterize one’s relationships with other people. In layman’s terms, soft skills are basically what makes you likeable. I hate to be so blunt, but I’m going to say it anyway. Soft skills are dying, and they are dying fast.

So…what exactly are soft skills?

6 Important Soft Skills

  1. Communication: How you interact with others is key. Make eye contact, speak clearly and concisely, shake hands, and hold a conversation that means something.
  2. Writing Ability: I am not talking about your ability to text or use shorthand. I am talking about your real, true writing ability. Grammatical errors should be at a minimum, your writing should be efficient and to the point. You should especially know the difference between writing to an office mate and writing to the big boss.
  3. Teamwork: Remember sitting in middle school/high school/college and working in teams, hating every minute of it? Well guess what: it was prepping you for your career. The ability to work in a team setting is one of the primary skills employers are looking for.
  4. Coachability: You can’t be perfect all of the time. How do you handle when someone gives you feedback or criticism? The best employees are coachable and open for suggestions.
  5. Body Language: Shoulders back, head high, and a smile on your face. The world does not need to know that you are having a bad day. Positive body language could easily set you apart from other candidates.
  6. Interpersonal Skills: These are the skills that set you apart from the workplace gossip. Interpersonal skills include conflict resolution, dealing with difficult people, and networking abilities.

When it comes down to it, soft skills are your workplace manners. Just like manners are important in your day to day life, a completely different set of manners are appropriate in the workplace. These are the skills that can and will set you apart from others who are vying for the same positions as you. It’s time you take a look in the mirror and decide if these skills need a little dusting off or maybe a complete overhaul. Your career could depend on it.

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