As companies begin to rehire again after COVID-19, they will be looking for candidates with exceptional soft skills more than ever before. Soft skills are personal qualities that allow one to more effectively relate to others. Some soft skills include having a positive attitude, effective time management, and the ability to express empathy. Once learned, these soft skills will enhance your personal interactions on the job while at the same time lead you to experience greater job satisfaction. Identified as essential employability skills, soft skills, also called personal qualities or people skills, are highly desired by employers in today’s workplace. These skills will not only help you find a job, but when gained, will help you perform better in the workplace.
The demand for soft skills has been growing for the past few decades and continues to grow. Several studies actually suggest that employers now value soft skills more than hard skills and this will be even more so post COVID-19. So as you can see, it’s extremely important to gain some valuable soft skills in your life.
What are Hard Skills?
Before we look at soft skills, we need to differentiate them from hard skills. For the administrative office professional, hard skills are the critical technical office skills that you bring to the workplace such as computer technology skills like Keyboarding, Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Hard skills can be learned and can be acquired through training, work or a combination of both. Hard skills are considered transferable which means that once learned, you can transfer them from job to job. That’s because hard skills are standard across industries. For example, the hard skills for an administrative assistant position would be very similar at several different organizations and industries. Hard skills are considered measurable which means an employer can test you on these skills. For example, when applying for a position of an Administrative Assistant, a typing test will usually be part of the application process. The following are a list of hard skills required of the administrative professional:
- Microsoft Office including Word, Excel and Outlook
- Database Management such as Microsoft Access
- Preparing presentations, reports, and documents
- Keyboarding at 40 to 80 WPM depending on the position
- Managing office supplies and Inventory Control
- Managing calendars
- Booking travel
- Scheduling facilities and equipment
- Routine clerical and organizational tasks
- Organizing files
- Buying supplies, and managing stockrooms
- Knowledge of videoconferencing, fax, and other office equipment
- Conducting research
What are Soft Skills?
Soft skills are essential life skills that you cannot do without. You need your soft skills in order to survive. Soft skills are personal qualities that you display such as being able to communicate, being responsible, dependable and being a self-starter. Soft skills are also character or personality traits such as having a positive self-esteem, being sociable, displaying integrity/honesty and projecting a pleasant personality. They are also personal attributes that enable you to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people. These include people skills, social skills, communication skills, listening skills, problem solving skills, time management, attitudes and emotional intelligence such as the ability to show empathy to others. Also, your ability to get along with your co-workers, being ethical, being adaptable, and being a team player is essential to your success as a valued employee. Soft skills essentially allow you to demonstrate that you are a professional. Here is a list of soft skills desired by employers in today’s workplace that will help you succeed in a post-coronavirus world.
Soft Skills List
- A good work ethic – As an Administrative Professional, you are expected to make good decisions for your company and act ethically while on the job. Examples of behavior that demonstrates a good work ethic are actually quite straight forward such as arriving to work on time and performing your absolute best in your job duties. Your individual values help you determine what is right and what is wrong and is influenced by your upbringing, family, church and community around you. However, it’s important to not only abide by your company code of conduct but also to maintain your own personal code of conduct.
- Communication Skills – Regardless of the industry you work in or the position you hold, it’s essential to communicate effectively with those around you. More than ever in our digital age, it’s important to know how to effectively convey and receive messages in person (verbally) as well as via phone, email, chat, and social media. As an Administrative Office Professional, you will be expected to communicate externally with your company’s clients and internally with many of the employees of the organization.
- Listening Skills – Listening is one of the most important soft skills you can possess. How well you listen will have a major impact on your job effectiveness and ability to do your job. If you develop good listening skills, you will be able to solve problems more effectively and communicate better with others. According to experts, at least half of our time is spent listening. In fact, they say, we listen more than any other activity. Businesses love to hire people who have good listening skills as employees who are poor listeners can cost an organization hundreds and thousands of dollars a year from mistakes made from poor listening habits.
- A Positive Attitude – Maintaining a positive attitude, both in person and on the telephone, is very important in your role as an Administrative Professional. While you may not have any control over many things that happen in life, you can, in fact, control your attitude by incorporating some positive choices into your daily work life. Some attributes of maintaining a positive attitude are greeting your clients in a friendly and professional way, learning your job and company well, being courteous at all times, dressing for success and being ethical and honest
- Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Skills – Today’s employers seek candidates with critical thinking skills more than ever before. It has become a necessary skill in the success and profitability of organizations. Many scholars, scientists, engineers and students have used critical thinking skills to solve some of the most biggest and complex problems in the world so as you can see, it is a very valuable soft skill to acquire. As a busy office professional in the 21st century, you need critical thinking and problem solving skills or you will find it very difficult to do your job and keep up with the demands of the time. The good news is that critical thinking is a learnable, transferable skill that you can take with you wherever you go.
- Time Management Skills – Time management is one of the most important soft skills you can develop as the ability to manage your time and work assignments will not only increase your productivity, but also your satisfaction on the job. Employers today look for people who are able to plan their time effectively. Time management and critical thinking skills go hand in hand as it’s hard to manage your time unless you can critically think out your day. Assigning priorities is usually one of the most difficult tasks for the office professional and often requires judgement as some tasks can have more pressing deadlines than others. However, knowing the difference between what must be done immediately (most important) and what can wait (less important, routine tasks) will be key to your time management skills. Creating a list of tasks that must be done each day is one way to manage your time.
- Teamwork – Teamwork is an extremely important soft skill which ranks up there with communication. In order to be an effective team player, you will need to be able to communicate well with your manager and other team members. Teamwork is the collaborative effort of a team to achieve a common goal or to complete a task in the most effective and efficient way. (Wikipedia). There will be many times in your career as an administrative professional that you will be required to work in collaboration with other administrative staff or employees who are assigned a task or goal for which the team must work together to arrive at a solution or recommendation.
- Adaptability and Flexibility – Two of the most important soft skills you can develop are adaptability and flexibility. While this soft skill is a very difficult quality for many people to meet, the dynamics of the work place today is constantly changing, making it very important to understand what it means to be adaptable and flexible. Adaptability is a sought-after soft skill in the 21st Century as it shows that the administrative professional can adapt to new technology trends, ever-changing company processes and customer needs. Adaptability rates right up there along with other highly desirable hard and soft skills and some employers state that people who are highly adaptable are actually considered more valuable employees than those who are highly skilled but less adaptable.
Soft Skills Training
If you’d like to learn more about soft skills for administrative professionals, take the online soft skills training course on officeskills.org.
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