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Improving your soft skills

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Improving your soft skills

BY Skillset 29 Mar, 2022

Employers are increasingly looking for candidates with strong soft skills.

Soft skills are those interpersonal behaviours, personality traits and abilities that people use in the workplace when interacting with others and performing their work. They include skills such as creativity, communication, active listening, team work, time management and adaptability.

However, what can you do if your soft skills fall short in some way? Are there steps you can actively take to improve and develop your soft skills? The following paragraphs offer some suggestions:

First step: Ask for feedback

Some people are very aware of their strengths and the areas where they need improvement. However, many people are unsure of the soft skills they have and find any self-assessment of these skills difficult to undertake.

To understand the soft skills you can offer, ask your friends, family, trusted co-workers, and maybe even past managers you had a good relationship with, about the soft skills you have and any gaps they have seen.

This feedback will help you clarify what soft skills you can offer in the workplace and which ones need some work. Importantly, this information will help determine what future steps you need to take to enhance the soft skills you have.

Take on a new challenge

Once you know about gaps in your soft skills you can take active steps to improve them. Taking on a new challenge might be a good way of doing this. In your workplace, this might include:

  • Leading or being included in a new project
  • Having responsibility for a particular task or job
  • Running an internal meeting or discussion
  • Offering to write a report or take minutes at a meeting
  • Organising an event or function.

Once you have thought about ways to improve specific soft skills, make a time to talk to your manager about opportunities to implement these in your workplace.

Another good way of developing your soft skills is to consider opportunities outside of work. There are plenty of ways to gain soft skills you can use at work, including:

  • Volunteering for a charity or cause
  • Playing a team sport
  • Coaching a sports team
  • Joining a professional association and taking part in their networking activities
  • Taking a class, such as a drama class.

Before taking up any opportunities outside of work, think about the soft skill gaps you need to fill and what activities would be best to bridge your gap.

Consider soft skills training

If you feel your soft skills are lacking in a particular area, then it may be worth undertaking some microcredentials or non-formal learning to enhance them. For example, Coursera offers some online short courses in the following areas:

If you are interested in virtual training (interactions with students and teachers via an internet connection) then it may be worth contacting the Australian Institute of Soft Skills Training who offer a range of different soft skills training in areas such as time management, strategic thinking, and leadership and management.

The following local businesses also provide a range of training in soft skills and other areas:

Additionally, it may be worthwhile checking out your professional association if you are a member of one, or are thinking about joining. These organisations often have soft skills courses on offer to members as part of their career development offerings.

When choosing a potential course, keep in mind that any soft skills training you undertake should be strongly linked to the work environment you are in or wish to work in, and crucially, that these courses will lead to job opportunities.

Practice your skills

Once you have taken up opportunities to enhance or learn some soft skills, it is important to practice these as much as you can – as the saying goes: practice makes perfect! The more you practice these skills, the better you are likely to become!

 

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Australia Skillset would like to acknowledge and pay respect to the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work.
We are honoured to be on the ancestral lands of those whose cultures are among the oldest living cultures in human history. We pay respect to the Elders, past, present and to the younger generation of the community who will be the future leaders in years to come.