There’s so much talk about soft skills today. And yet we rarely talk about how those skills make us more employable, or how we develop them.
Even more important, it seems very few of us are aware of our most marketable soft skills… so are unable to tell the story of how we mastered those skills. Because, as we say at YouTern, “storytellers make the best sellers,” that puts us at a disadvantage in job interviews, networking opportunities, and more.
To help us become more self-aware of our soft skills, and to provide examples of how those stories can impact a personal brand, we asked our friends at the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) this question:
What one soft skill makes you most marketable? And how did you develop that skill?
Here are their answers!
“Adaptability is one of the most marketable soft skills because so many companies have to adapt to sudden market changes. The greater responsiveness to change you demonstrate, the more valuable your technical skills are. I’ve developed this by running my own businesses. Knowing what a pivot means as a leader helps me understand how important adaptability is for every role in an organization.”
“Growing up with very little, I learned early on to appreciate everything that was given to me and appreciate everyone that took the time to spend moments with me. When I see someone struggling, I feel an emotional pull to help them in anyway I can, because I can identify with those feelings. It’s this part of me that understands and accepts others without judgement.”
“The person who’s kind to the receptionist, who makes eye contact and says good morning and does their work well is going to be much more memorable than someone who radiates negativity. I worked on my office positivity by setting a goal every day to do five polite, civil things to people outside my normal contacts, and it made me enjoy my day much more, too.”
People lie. If you’re the one person in the room that doesn’t, it will stand out. Admit your weaknesses and admit your faults. Make it clear that there are things you don’t know, but make it just as clear when you’re an expert on something. Honesty is one of the hardest soft skills to develop, but I’ve never turned someone down for a job because they were too honest.
“You don’t have to be an Upper West Side socialite. However, an understanding of social dynamics and the ability to act and speak with those dynamics in mind is a truly marketable trait. A threshold of hard skills is necessary to perform any duties outlined in a job description; but, these hard skills are exponentially amplified when performed by someone that understands social dynamics.”
People are attracted to people they like to hang out with, respect and can learn from. So be real, not fake; be personable, not annoying; be nice, not mean. Have integrity and do what you say you will. My band teacher in high school taught me how powerful it was to get along with your peers and grow long lasting relationships and friends. Being funny in the right way goes a long way in this pursuit.
“I think I can, I think I can: Repeat this before everything you do in life and you will end up with more opportunities than you ever dreamed. Confidence is one of the most marketable soft skills that anyone can possess because it communicates an attitude that you are the one to get the job done. Every accomplishment started with a confidence in yourself that an outcome was possible.”
“I’ve always had strong interests and passions and liked to surround myself with people I could share them with. Maybe my efforts to connect people began just because I enjoyed conversations around topics I liked, but I soon found the ability to connect like-minded people incredibly powerful. Developing these skills, I’ve been able to network extensively and even launched my own Twitter chat.”
Coping with Uncertainty
“An inherent problem with startups is that there’s so much uncertainty. Some people have a hard time dealing with that. They need answers to questions like, “What are we going to do next month?” and “What are my roles and responsibilities?” which can be hard questions to answer. To improve your ability to handle uncertainty, take improv comedy classes, meditate and develop a regular routine.”
“My years as a journalist taught me the importance of really hearing what other people had to say.
I’ve found that my ability, maybe my instinct, to truly listen to what other people are saying is a key driver to my success.”
Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.