Published Date: 27th November 2023.
I recently had an eye-opening moment of realisation while attending the annual AIMS Games in Tauranga Moana.
The AIMS Games are a miniature Olympics for intermediate-aged school-kids from around the country to compete in dozens of different sports.
But there is more to these kinds of events than simply competing to win, or the technical prowess required to play a sport. Participating in such events gives you the opportunity to reflect on how you handle pressure and stay motivated during challenges.
Watching these young athletes rise to the challenges of the moment and stretch beyond their ordinary capabilities had me thinking about similar efforts required in the world of work.
As we shift into an increasingly competitive jobs market, we’re observing that employers have more candidates to choose from — which means they can now afford to be even more selective about who they hire.
With a wider pool of candidates to interview, hiring managers are basing their decisions on more than just what is listed on their CV.
So, what are the qualities of candidates who can get over the finish line to receive a job offer? The answer lies in what are commonly referred to as ‘soft skills’.
In this blog, I’ll outline what soft skills are, why they’re increasingly important when looking for jobs in New Zealand, and how to make yours shine when applying for roles.
The Essential Soft Skills for Any Role
When people hear ‘soft skills’, they might think of time management and problem-solving — but these are just part of the overall puzzle. Soft skills are attributes that enable you to navigate workplace challenges and thrive, despite the difficulties you encounter.
In other words, soft skills give you the all-important resilience you need to navigate the uncertainties of life and work.
Here’s a breakdown of the soft skills that can help you build resilience:
Adaptability and Flexibility:
Being able to adjust to sudden or major changes in your work environment, such as a different workload, new manager or team, or new technology.
Having an openness to different approaches and perspectives.
Willingness to tweak your plans when necessary, without becoming overly stressed or resistant.
The ability to reflect on your experiences and learn from both your successes and failures.
Not being afraid of feedback, as you understand this will help you develop and improve.
Embracing a growth mindset and viewing challenges as opportunities for learning.
Staying updated on industry trends and acquiring new skills to remain relevant in a rapidly changing work environment.
Communication and Knowing When to Ask for Help:
Building and maintaining positive relationships with your colleagues and managers.
Collaborating with your team members to tackle a specific challenge.
Not being afraid of asking for help when you need it.
Developing a support network within the workplace.
Effectively communicating in tough situations, whether it be delivering difficult news, giving feedback, or managing conflicts.
Why Soft Skills Are Essential in Today’s Workplace
Let’s face it — every work environment presents sudden or ongoing challenges that each employee must deal with. Virtually every role involves pressure in the form of deadlines, handling customers, clients and/or suppliers, or managing team members.
As a recruitment professional, I can say one of the most revealing windows into the hiring process is the references that candidates receive from their former managers.
Judging from employment references alone, there is no doubt that jobseekers with proven resilience, aptitude for learning, and a strong work ethic are those who outshine everyone else who can technically do the job ‘on paper’.
Amongst the recent references I’ve collected for candidates on behalf of employers, a few have stood out precisely due to the resilience factor.
In one reference, a manager was impressed by how the candidate handled stress well, and when under pressure they “got stuck in and worked harder.”
Another candidate stood out on account of their ability to take on feedback, listen and adjust their work appropriately. Yet another candidate made a powerful impression by regularly checking in with their managers to share issues and work through them.
Having resilience at work isn’t just about impressing employers, however. It’s also essential for your mental well-being and for enjoying coming to work each day. With resilience, you can also learn from setbacks in ways that can help you build a better career.
How to Use Your Soft Skills to Stand Out as a Candidate
As with hard skills, like marketing, data analysis, or software engineering, it is possible to highlight soft skills on your CV and in job interviews. The key is to use real-world examples that illustrate how you’ve applied these skills in previous situations.
Remember, if you are still in the earliest stages of your career and yet to develop a well-rounded technical skillset, soft skills might be the best qualities you can offer an employer.
What would your manager say about your ability to take feedback?
How do you behave when under pressure?
What is your approach to learning and upskilling — do you take responsibility for learning new skills?
How do you make a positive contribution to your team?
We are a proudly Kiwi-owned and operated recruitment agency working throughout Aotearoa, New Zealand. Our Whānau is passionate about supporting you whether you’re an employer looking for the best talent or a job seeker looking for your next career opportunity.
When you work with Beyond Recruitment, you work with a specialised recruitment agency committed to doing the mahi and getting the results!