There was once a time when all anyone had to do to get a job in America was to prove they exist – i.e. they just had to show up. So the legend goes, anyway. That was before my time and seems inconceivable to me and others my age.
Today, jobseekers need an arsenal of expertise, including those curious things that very recently became known as "soft skills." Your ability to cuddle a fluffy bunny doesn't qualify as a soft skill, unfortunately. Soft skills are "skills in dealing with and communicating with people effectively," according to a Merriam-Webster's New Words and Slang submission.
These behavioral competencies are also known as interpersonal or people skills, and they are more important than ever in a job market brimming with diploma-sporting jobseekers duking it out a shrunken pool of good jobs. Even having an in-demand "hard skill" like mechanical engineering is not enough to guarantee you a job offer on its own anymore. Most employers – 77 percent – say soft skills are equally important as hard skills, according to a new survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of Careerbuilder.
It's fortunate that mastering these skills will not require you to carve out time and money to go back to school or take an online course. You can practice wherever you go. Try them out at your job, at networking events and even at the dinner table with family or with friends.
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