Don't forget about these soft skills in 2020.

You're in the middle of your job search, and you feel confident that you're the candidate for the job. Why? That's easy — you have all the skills the job requires, from the training to the industry knowledge and technical skills.

News flash — so does your competition.

Unless you have some fantastic experience under your belt, you may be one of the many qualified applicants vying for the role. So how do employers pick the right applicant for the job? What separates those who will succeed from those who won't? 

It's not as mysterious as you might think. What helps candidates stand out from the rest are known as soft skills. Develop your soft skills in the workplace and you have a big edge on your competition. 

What are soft skills?

Think of soft skills as your personal skills — things you do that make you a great employee outside of the technical skills that are needed for the job. They may come naturally to you, or perhaps you've added some classes to your list to augment these abilities. 

If you haven't, consider taking online classes and other certification courses to develop your soft skills in the workplace. Soft skills, which may seem basic to some, can be difficult for employers to find, so they're impressed by applicants who can demonstrate a strong set from the get-go.

While there is an abundance of soft skills, here are the top soft skills that employers are looking for in 2020:

1. Creativity

The last thing an employer wants is an employee who sees a tough situation or new task and says, “Wow, I don't know what to do here.” Instead, they want to know that you can think logically and creatively to come up with solutions to the problems or obstacles that come up in your role.

They also want to know you will work to develop new ideas on top of addressing existing problems. And the more creative, the better; that kind of thinking leads to innovation and improvements within the company.

On your resume, be sure to list situations where you had to use your creativity in the face of adversity, coming up with innovative solutions to the problems that arose.

At your interview, express your enthusiasm for tackling challenges. Every job has hurdles, and employers want to hire people who aren't afraid of tackling those challenges, so make sure your interviewer knows you're one of those people.

2. Communication skills 

This is a broad category: It can mean anything from how you converse with a client and colleagues to how well you get your point across in emails. The ability to communicate with clients and team members is essential, and it's not just when you are trying to get a point across, either. A good communicator is also a good listener.

Taking a class on communication skills is well worth your time and money. It's one of the most crucial soft skills in any job, in any industry. If you already think that it is one of your best attributes, find a way to demonstrate that on your resume and in your interview.

3. A growth mindset 

When it comes to ensuring longevity in your career, you need to be able to grow and adapt to changes within your industry and the job market as a whole. With the mechanization of jobs and industries, having a growth mindset is essential. 

So what is a growth mindset? Professionals with a growth mindset are motivated to reach higher levels of achievement by continuously learning new skills in order to move with a changing market. Essentially, it is being adaptable and willing to go above and beyond the soft and hard skills you already have. 

Showcase your growth mindset by highlighting instances when you showed initiative by learning a new skill in order to better do your job or help you keep up with industry-wide changes.  

4. Emotional intelligence

What does it mean to have high emotional intelligence? Emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive, evaluate, and respond to your emotions and the emotions of others. This means that you are able to think empathetically about the people around you and the interpersonal relationships that develop in the workplace.

In fact, one survey by CareerBuilder reported that 71 percent of employers value emotional intelligence in an employee over IQ, while 75 percent are more likely to promote an employee with higher EQ (emotional quotient) over someone with higher IQ. 

The best way to show your emotional intelligence? During your interview.

5. Collaboration

Collaborating with your co-workers isn't as easy as it seems. For those who believe that they know how to do the job and don't have faith in others to do their parts, they can create tension in the office and hurt the overall efficiency. Learning to trust others, work together, and give and accept ideas is a difficult skill to master — but if you can, you'll be well ahead of the competition.

Show off your soft skills in collaboration by displaying on your resume your ability to work with team members. You should highlight it during your interview as well. Show enthusiasm for accepting colleagues' ideas and maximizing your team's overall efficiency by utilizing each person's individual strengths.

6. Leadership

While creativity, communication skills, a growth mindset, emotional intelligence, and collaboration are all skills that can make you a great employee, leadership skills will elevate you even further. No matter the job, most employers are looking for someone who is capable of growing beyond that role.

Leadership skills are really a combination of all the other soft skills. When you put them together, you have a person who can not only work well with the team, but also take the reins and make the rest of the team better.

If you've been in charge of big projects in the past, bring that out in your resume and mention it in interviews. Show that you're not someone who is just looking to punch in and punch out, but an applicant who is ready to conquer this job and grow into a future leader within the company; that makes you an attractive investment for the hiring company.

Think of your soft skills as the accessories to your training in your field. They alone cannot qualify you for a job, but when paired with solid credentials, they can make you a much more attractive candidate. From cashier to construction worker to CEO, soft skills are universally needed in today's workforce. Learn to cultivate yours and display them for employers to see, and you'll keep yourself ahead of the pack.

Are your soft skills highlighted on your resume? Check today with a free resume review

This article was updated in May 2020 by Danielle Elmers.

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