Your university days are behind you and you’re ready for your first real job. Succeeding in the workplace will require you to call on everything you’ve learned so far, and more. While not necessarily part of a textbook curriculum, soft skills are just as important for your professional success as technical know-how. Here are five skills your employer will expect you to have – that you can’t learn from a book.
1. Time management
Adjusting to the hectic schedule of most corporate jobs can be a challenge for some graduates. To maximise your productivity, learn how to prioritise tasks – for the day, week, and month ahead. Ask your manager to set clear expectations so you know the output that’s required, what your key performance indicators (KPIs) are, and where to look for support when you need it.
The most successful people are often great communicators. Communicating well with colleagues and clients is the key to building strong relationships and completing projects on time and to a good standard. Active listening is the first step to becoming a great communicator. Let people have their say and listen to them without interrupting. Then, pause to consider your response rather than just reacting to what they said.
There aren’t many professions that don’t require you to be a team player. To be a good team player you’ll need to be flexible and adept at focusing on tasks and results, rather than emotion and office politics. Offering your support when it’s needed is a good place to start, but getting to know your colleagues socially outside work can help too. And try not to be protective of your ideas. Teamwork is about sharing your knowledge and expertise to come up with the best possible result.
Negotiation skills are not just about getting your next pay rise. Good negotiators add value to their organisations in a number of ways – from resolving conflicts, to managing client expectations, and closing deals with suppliers. Data and research are the lifeblood of an effective negotiator. Know your position, what you need to achieve, and what you can offer, so all parties feel they have benefited from the negotiation.
To take your career to the next level, you’ll need to develop basic leadership skills. Integrity and honesty are essential, and you must also be capable of motivating and inspiring those around you. Again, listening is key here. Understand what drives your colleagues, where they can best contribute, and how you can make them feel valued. While technical know-how is non-negotiable for every employee, it’s these soft skills that will help you succeed and move up in your career. Get them right and you’ll be on the fast track to success.skill