Look on the bright side.

Soft Skills

Soft skills are a kind of abstract concept and are frequently heard in the US job market, Hard skills are the skill set that is required for a job, such as the expertise which is job-specific and are typically listed in job postings and job descriptions whereas soft skills are the more intangible and non-technical abilities - communication, teamwork, problem-solving, leadership, responsibility, to name a few.


In the US job markets, recruitment criteria are not limited to technical ability and specialist knowledge - soft skills count. This is because every job role requires some interaction with others, whether they are colleagues or customers.


Here are some examples of the importance of soft skills:

A doctor: A doctor who does not have the soft skills of emotional intelligence, trustworthiness, and approachability is not likely to be highly regarded by their patients.
A salesperson: A salesperson will find it difficult to close a deal and retain their clients if they lack the soft skills of interpersonal skills and negotiation.
A telemarketer: They are able to interact professionally with customers and have empathy and listening skills only when they have soft skills.


Soft skills are also important at office meetings or other occasions when you communicate with your colleagues. The workplace is an interpersonal space where relationships must be built and fostered, perspectives must be exchanged and, occasionally, conflicts must be resolved, and generate the corporation's profit based on effective teamwork after all.


1. Communication
Communication is one of the most important soft skills. A key communication skill is listening. Whether you are dealing with a customer complaint or working with your colleagues, good listening skills will help you learn and respond correctly to the circumstance you have been presented with.

Equally as important are your verbal and non-verbal skills. Verbal skills are key to fostering relationships that are collaborative and respectful, and ultimately, productive. This also applies to your written communication. To demonstrate your verbal and non-verbal at your job interview, making eye contact, shaking hands, listening closely to the questions, and answering them fully will work.

A lot of business communication is now played out by email, so it's important to know good email etiquette and give instructions clearly and concisely. NHK radio program observes this course on "Business English for Global COmpetence" featured by Prf. Shibata.


2. Self-Motivation
Having a positive attitude and the initiative to work well without around-the-clock supervision is a vital soft skill for any employee.

Not only does it demonstrate reliability and commitment, but it also shows that you can fit efficiently into an organizational structure without the need for constant supervision.

To demonstrate your motivation, think about these keys skills:

Positivity, Ambition, Commitment, Initiative.

3. Leadership
Leadership is a soft skill you can show even if you’re not directly managing others.

Those with strong leadership skills will have the ability to inspire others and lead teams to success. This is why it is a particularly sought-after skill.

People with good leadership skills will have a range of skills that are useful in the workplace, including:

A positive attitude and outlook, The ability to make quick and effective decisions, Exemplary problem-solving or conflict management skills, The ability to communicate effectively, An aptitude for both self-motivating and motivating others

Even if you are applying for an entry-level role, don't be afraid to demonstrate your potential by showing how you have positively influenced others to take a project to success.


4. Responsibility
Colleagues who fail to take responsibility for their work will be less productive and less successful overall.

To demonstrate a high level of responsibility, make sure you can master these skills:

Trustworthiness, Discipline, Motivation, Conscientiousness, Accountability.

Taking responsibility means taking ownership of not only your goals but the wider company goals. This will mean taking the initiative to make improvements, accepting responsibility for any failures, and really caring about working your way to success.


5. Teamwork
Americans are often taken as stand-alone guys, but that is not true. Not only leadership but good teamwork is needed to make the business bigger, which involves a combination of other soft skills. Working in a team towards a common goal requires the intuition and interpersonal acumen to know when to be a leader and when to be a listener. Good team players are perceptive, as well as receptive to the needs and responsibilities of others.


6. Problem Solving
Problem-solving does not just require analytical, creative, and critical skills, but a particular mindset; those who can approach a problem with a cool and level head will often reach a solution more efficiently than those who cannot.


7. Decisiveness
Decisiveness is characterized by the ability to make quick and effective decisions based on the ability to put things into perspective, to weigh up the options, assess all relevant information, to anticipate any consequences. Recklessness and impulsiveness are out of the question. 


8. Ability to Work Under Pressure and Time Management
Many jobs come with demanding deadlines and high stakes. Recruiters prize candidates who show a decisive attitude, an unfaltering ability to think clearly, and a capacity to compartmentalize and set stress aside.

Time management is closely related to the ability to work under pressure, as well as within tight deadlines.

 Employees who manage their time well can efficiently prioritize tasks and organize their diaries while adopting an attitude that allows them to take on new tasks and deadlines.


9. Flexibility
Flexibility is an important soft skill, since it demonstrates an ability and willingness to embrace new tasks and new challenges calmly and without fuss.

Flexible employees are willing to help out where needed, take on extra responsibilities and can adapt quickly when plans change.

Employers are looking for candidates who can show a willing and upbeat attitude, and who are unfazed by change.


10. Negotiation and Conflict Resolution
This is another of those soft skills which employers look for in potential leaders.

To be an adept negotiator is to know how to be persuasive and exert influence, while sensitively seeking a solution which will benefit all parties.

Similarly, conflict resolution depends on strong interpersonal skills and the ability to establish a rapport with colleagues and clients alike.


Then, how to improve your soft skills and write them down on your resume and show them at your interview? It is more difficult than hard skills because you can highlight them in your resume and in job interviews with your qualification such as license, grades, and business experience, but soft skills are more slippery.


Here are some tips:

1 Participate in self-reflection. In order to improve, you must first be honest about where your shortcomings are. This isn't always easy. If you are struggling, ask a friend or family member to help you identify your true strengths and weaknesses.
Look for online training. Once you have identified the areas you need to improve, look for some online courses that will help you learn skills that would be useful in the workplace.


2 Observe others. Look to others who exemplify the soft skills you want to improve. If you have a relationship with them, ask for their advice or coaching.

3 Practice. All soft skills will improve with practice. Once you have obtained training or coaching, practice using your newfound skills with friends or family before your interview. This will give you the confidence to take these skills into the workplace.

4 Especially for the Japanese candidates: Soft skills do not refer to hesitation or shyness. It is the very balance between acceptance and demonstration.