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4 Hard-Hitting “Soft Skills” That Are Vital For Career Success

Social media sites like LinkedIn and Facebook are leading the way in how employers approach the task of hiring new talent for their organization. While degrees definitely still matter, they aren’t the be-all-end-all of your earning potential. More and more employers are looking less at your education and more at your character and mettle. In the words of Portfolium founder Adam Markowitz, “potential over pedigree.”

Likewise, the internet is a place where someone with modest beginnings can launch their own online business and be met with explosive success. Again, it’s not necessarily because they have a lot of technical training or education. More likely, it’s because they possess certain characteristics or attributes that enables them to get ahead — also known as soft skills.

The following four personal attributes are the key to success no matter what your career aspirations are:

1. Enthusiasm

Enthusiasm is sometimes referred to as a “can-do attitude” or a “positive outlook” on job listings. These are the people who take pride in their work and put forth their best effort each day. They care about what they’re doing because they believe in it.

Enthusiastic people are also more likely to be optimistic and confident about what they can bring to the table. They are the “A players” – one of the most desirable things an employee can be. And for the entrepreneur, there are few attributes more important than the passion to build your own business from the ground up!

2. Adaptability

Change is terrifying for a lot of people. Yet, the ability to embrace change is one of the crucial attributes that separates the doers from the dreamers. Adapters are the ones who rise to the challenge when others are reluctant to try anything outside their job description.

They’re the indispensable ones in the office who can don different “hats” to get the job done. They’re also brave enough to take the leap into something completely different entirely. Whether it’s making the tough choice to leave a job you’ve been in forever or taking on a new set of responsibilities, being prepared to adapt to new situations is a must.

3. Emotional Intelligence

Analogous to IQ, EQ (short for “Emotional Quotient”) is essentially how self-aware we are in social situations. Studies show that a high EQ translates to high earning potential. It’s our ability to gauge our own emotions and collaborate well with others. For many of us, it can be difficult to take a step back and look at ourselves objectively. For example, the same constructive criticism that’s an insult to one person  is welcome feedback to someone with a high EQ. This self-awareness also helps them to read social situations and leverage them to their advantage. (For example, knowing the right time and place to ask for a raise or promotion!)

People with high EQ are less affected by high-stress situations and are empathetic, yet assertive when they need to be. Their ability to collaborate well with others also helps with their ability to network, which is an ideal skill to have when launching a new business!

4. Critical Thinking

In short, we’re talking about having the skills to solve problems. On a job listing, this characteristic is often expressed as seeking an “independent worker.” Critical thinkers approach problems in a logical, systematic way, and connect concepts to find solutions without the assistance of others. This goes hand-in-hand with lateral thinking, which approaches problems from a different perspective in order to derive logic-based solutions.  

People with strong problem-solving skills have the ability to “see the big picture” and take the time to understand how their interactions with clients and colleagues relate back to the business. They’re also able to plan and follow their own path, which is definitely an advantage for the budding entrepreneur.

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Just like you would hard skills, hone your soft skills with training and practice. In today’s competitive job market, soft skills can make or break you when an employer is choosing between you and someone else. And if you have already have one or more of these strengths, don’t be afraid to put it on your résumé!

If you’re striking out your own, these factors arguably become even more important. No matter what your goals, you already have a leg up if you have the passion to drive you, the optimism to succeed, the self-awareness to learn from your mistakes, and the right thought process to overcome challenges.

What do you think is the most important personal attribute to career success?

Corrie Alexander is a content creator and customer service manager from Toronto, Ontario. Her climb up the corporate ladder cultivated her interest in the topic of career development, a passion rivaled only by her love of exercise and strong coffee. Visit her website, thefitcareerist.com, and follow her on Twitter here.

Image via Unsplash

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