In this industry, we spend a lot of time searching for employees who have the correct technical skills. Often, we focus so hard on the technical skills when hiring that we miss the skill sets that can indicate excellent future employees.

Having technical skills is important; however, possessing soft skills can often help someone go much further and quicker along the path to success. Soft skills include, but are not limited to:

  • Work ethic
  • Problem solving
  • Creativity
  • Time management
  • Flexibility
  • Emotional intelligence

Work ethic is a soft skill that can be challenging to teach and coach. On a team where everyone has a strong work ethic, everyone pulls their weight and challenges are overcome. People with a strong work ethic tend to take responsibility for their own actions and like to see things through to the end. These tendencies are frequently as important — if not more important — than someone simply knowing how to do a job.

Problem solving is another vital soft skill. Anyone can identify a problem; most of us do this every day. But it takes a different kind of person to look at a challenge and offer solutions, and that person is the one you want on your team. Problem-solving is an excellent skill to have, especially since problems can multiply when left unattended.

Creativity is a soft skill that is often overlooked, but it’s critical. A person who has creativity can think outside of the box, find alternative solutions or approaches to situations, and look at a situation with a different mindset. This is extremely beneficial when a company is faced with a challenge or wants to expand into uncharted territory. Creative people also tend to adapt to new processes and learn new skills with more ease than non-creative people, as they often view challenges in a positive way.

Time management is an essential soft skill. Because time is so highly valued by customers, employees, and employers, those who can manage their time become highly sought-after. In our industry, we’re often racing against the clock to be able to effectively address customer concerns. We also make commitments to work/life balance and need time management skills to be successful. Those who can effectively manage their time are able to prioritize their tasks, set an agenda, and get the job completed. This inevitably saves customers unneeded frustration, saves money for companies, and keeps the momentum moving in the right direction. Good time management skills also tend to prevent employee burnout.

Flexibility is a soft skill that’s difficult for many of us, as it can be a struggle to acclimate to change. People who are flexible can go with the flow, bounce back when situations arise that are out of the norm, fill in as needed in other areas, and tend to have a more positive outlook on life in general. The need for flexibility as a skill has increased over the years as business models continue to change with the needs and wants of our customers.

Emotional intelligence is probably the most important soft skill. Emotional intelligence is the ability to evaluate oneself in a transparent manner so that one can continue to improve. When people know their strengths and limitations, they become better communicators. Good communicators can adapt their own communication styles to the needs of others, which helps build teams and businesses that are more balanced. Emotional intelligence is also invaluable when dealing with customers and coworkers. An employee who possesses this soft skill is usually able to be coached and/or trained more readily.

When evaluating your current team and potential job candidates, be sure to look for these soft skills. When coupled with technical knowledge, they’re a winning combination. They’ll serve you better in the long run than just technical skills alone.