In today’s demanding Canadian workplace, employers not only place a priority on strong technical skills to meet minimum job requirements, but they also emphasize well-developed soft skills.
Soft skills are behavioural competencies—the personality traits and personal attributes related to emotions, attitudes, and habits that enable someone to interact well with others. Some examples of soft skills are: communication skills, teambuilding, problem solving, a positive attitude, negotiation and leadership skills.
Strong soft skills—or “people skills”—provide a competitive edge in the workplace. Employers hire and promote employees who are compatible with the workplace, demonstrate positivity, and excel at building relationships with colleagues and clients. Soft skills are essential to an individual’s professional success and growth in any occupation.
What soft skills are most important? The top four soft skills Canadian employers value are:
1. A positive attitude.
2. Good communication skills.
3. Teamwork skills.
4. Strong work ethic (CERIC National Business Survey, 2014).
Other soft skills and attributes Canadian employers look for include active listening skills, initiative, ability to relate to others, patience, open-mindedness, creativity, and proactive problem-solving skills.
Many newcomers have extensive work experience and highly developed technical skills or “hard skills” to contribute to an organization. Hard skills are defined as teachable skills: for example, the ability to use software, analyze data, or operate specialty tools or machinery to complete a task. However, “if employers are having difficulty finding technically skilled employees, six in 10 (62%) say they would hire someone with soft skills who is a good fit and provide training” (CERIC National Business Survey, 2014).
In a job interview, it is just as important for newcomers to highlight their soft skills and demonstrate how they would be a good fit for an organization. Emphasize the soft skills used to complete tasks, engage with clients, or resolve conflicts or problems. In the Canadian workplace, well-developed soft skills, strong English (or French) language skills, and an understanding of Canadian workplace practices and culture are just as important as credentials and technical skills.
Manitoba Start provides workshops and personal career counselling that helps newcomers to identify their strengths and develop and achieve their career goals in Manitoba. Manitoba Start is a not-for-profit community organization committed to successfully connecting newcomers with opportunities for sustainable employment. Visit our website for information on location, hours of operation, and contact info: www.manitobastart.com.