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Early Career Success Guide: Don’t Forget About the Soft Skills


Hard skills will help you get the job, but if you want to keep it (and excel) you need soft skills as well. Knowing how to communicate effectively, rebound from a setback, and express commitment to your work will impress the boss, your co-workers, and your company’s clients – all of which will make it easier to show off what you can do.


(Photo Credit: BAMCorp/Flickr)

As part of PayScale’s Guide to Early Career Success, we asked Kristin Hamilton, CEO of career-training company Koru, for her thoughts on the most important soft skills new grads need.

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“So, what soft skills matter most?” Hamilton asks. “Koru, a Seattle-based company that prepares grads for the workforce, has done extensive research on the most desirable job readiness skills for innovative companies, which include soft skills curiosity, grit, and polish. By taking the time to hone them, you might just give your career a bigger boost than any degree or technical skills could ever grant you.”

How can you develop these skills?

1. Ask smart questions.

Active listening is the key to asking questions that both get you the answers you need, and show the boss that you’re paying attention. Mindtools offers tips on becoming a more active listener, but the important thing is to pay close attention and get confirmation that your perception of what the speaker is saying is correct. Think, “so what I’m hearing is…” and “what do you mean when you say…?”

2. Get knocked down twice, get up three times.

Resilience is the most important quality a worker can have.

“Resilience is that ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever,” according to Psychology Today. “Rather than letting failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise from the ashes. Psychologists have identified some of the factors that make someone resilient, among them a positive attitude, optimism, the ability to regulate emotions, and the ability to see failure as a form of helpful feedback.”

3. Mind your manners.

You might be a gadget freak and think in code, and if so, you’ll have a valuable perspective to offer your employer. To make sure they still care when it’s time to give your two cents, be polite. Don’t stare at your mobile devices during meetings, or answer texts while you’re talking to the CEO. If those seem like obvious points, that’s great – just make sure that your behaviors show your engagement in what’s happening right now, not what’s waiting in your inbox.

Read more about the soft skills you need, here.

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What’s the most important skill for success, in your opinion? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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