Recruiters are no longer just searching for certificates and papers you got in school; otherwise, the world would not have unemployed Masters and PhD. candidates. Soft skills are now as marketable as hard skills.
Just like it is easy to job hunt in the comfort of your home, you can also learn some of these soft skills for free, thanks to the internet. If you have made looking for a job your main job, here are the 5 most important skills you can develop for free as a job seeker.
- Communication skills
While communication may appear as a simple and straightforward concept, most people do not know how to communicate. Communication involves speaking and writing, listening actively, and most importantly, feedback. Here are some ways of developing your communication skills for free;
Conversation – is perhaps the easiest way to develop your communication skills. It involves a give and take between you and the person you are engaging with. Through conversation, you will learn to read body language, non-verbal communication, and most importantly, listening actively to understand, not to reply.
Film and movies – when you watch a film, pay attention to the use of words, tone and intonation of voice, body movement, slang’, how to paraphrase words, clarity in statements, and response. Watching film and movies also increase your vocabulary and diction.
Use apps – from audiobooks, podcasts, language apps, to read aloud features, apps are versatile. These apps help you understand how you need to communicate with your colleagues, while also learning. You can read aloud with the speaker so that you get to know how s/he uses words, and how to pronounce them.
Read – if your sole purpose is to communicate through writing, you can only be successful when you read. Reading expands your mind, gives you ideas and contexts, and gets your creative juices flowing. The type of book you read does not matter. As long as you cultivate the culture of reading, your writing will be more improved.
- Emotional Intelligence
During interviews, recruiters mostly ask, ‘tell us about the time you worked under pressure, and how you handled it’. This question is usually asked to see how far you can go emotionally, what you say about your boss, and the success or failure you had during that highly emotional time. This is how you develop your emotional intelligence;
Self-analysis – what makes you happy? Sad? Angry? How do you respond to criticism? Do people’s opinions get the best of you? What are your strengths? Weaknesses? How do you respond when you are under pressure? Do you attack back when you are attacked? Once you have done a self-analysis, you will learn more about yourself, habits you need to pick up, drop, or learn.
Awareness of those around you – when you understand why a person responds how they respond in situations; verbally or non-verbally, you will be better placed to empathize and respect their opinions without feeling insufficient or attacked. You can only be aware of those around you when you have constant communication with them, do research of their cultures, and ask as many questions as you need to.
You should be able to easily integrate with a group of people at work, even if you do not agree with their personal views. You will not only have to prove that you can be part of a team but also, be in constant communication, accept feedback and criticism, as well as achieve the objectives of the company. Here is how to develop your teamwork skills;
Start a mini project – some examples include; DIY projects, organizing a meeting, coordinating trips for your busy parent or sibling, creating a website or an online non-profit organization. Through these mini projects(s) you will learn to work with others, manage your time, and improve your communication skills.
Volunteer – companies have volunteers who work in a group of 3-100, sometimes more. In this group, everyone is assigned a task and the team works together to reach an objective. When you volunteer, not only will you feel like you will be making an impact, you may also find your passion therein.
You are only as strong as the networks you have. You will probably get a job opportunity from someone on the inside rather than by yourself. Here is how to develop your networking skills;
Online chats – through joining online chat forums that pertain to the area you are interested in, you will get to learn about the industry trends, the movers and shakers, job opportunities, events, and social gatherings. You can only develop networks when you actively participate in these chats and engage in the social media platforms of the companies you are interested in working for/with.
Attend events – networks are made in the golf course, product or service launches, industry social gatherings, rather than in the board room. Being a part of a network and attending events will help you meet the right people who will listen to your ideas or give you jobs.
Recruiters and companies always look for a person who can take initiative without being followed. Showing that you can lead yourself and those around you puts you ahead of the rest. Here are ways to develop your leadership skills;
Mentor – the younger generation is always looking for someone to talk to them, give counsel, and sometimes, tell them what to do. You can mentor the children in your place of worship, the school close to you, or on big brother/sister programs online.
Maintain discipline – leadership requires a person to be disciplined. Cultivate a culture of time management, physical and mental exercises, personal hygiene, and the principles you stand for.
Be a follower – you can only be a good leader when you allow yourself to be led. Be under the wings of another person, learn how they do things and how they interact with people, take criticism and negative feedback, keep your feelings in check when your opinions are not taken up, and learn how to respect other people as well as their opinions.
As you sell your skills on your CV, do not forget to marry them to the requirements of the job description. Using the correct language as you build your CV will make your future employers like you even before they meet you. Also, keep in mind, you should tailor your CV to the specific job you are applying for.