Resumes. CVs. Cover letters. Interview Preparation. I am working on all this exciting stuff before I launch myself into the pursuit of my next career. But I am perplexed by the requests for Soft Skills. For a resume I am required to name a couple of SOFT SKILLS. Soft Skills are described as “people skills, the mix of social and interpersonal skills, character traits, and professional attitudes that all jobs require”
But these are my Best Skills. The people stuff. And they are NOT Soft!! I can happily work in a number of relevant programs but I certainly don’t consider that learning them was Hard. The hard part was engaging the program while having a real life anxious customer on the line. Though that was not hard after a while.
Turning a customer with a problem into a customer for life in three and a half minutes is certainly not a Soft Skill.
Is multi tasking really a Soft Skill? We do stuff like that every day. In a normal thirty seconds at work I would: Proofread a lot number (Can you double check this for me?) while answering a call ( My subscription needs to be cancelled; sure Valerie let’s see what we can do – can I put you on hold for a tic?) Just as a team member is lifting boxes at the door, catching your eye, her eyebrows raised – (This one or this one she gestures, laughing) . I tip my head in the direction of ‘this one’. I rise, the phone to my ear, send my latest copy in to be proofed, smack the photocopier back into life ( First rule of physics). Then wave to another team member ( Thank you – thumbs up, back shortly) Pick up the lap top and leave the room (OK Valerie, I am all yours – let’s look at your account).
And while I am writing this to you – I have a 5 year old at my elbow asking for more information on edible spoons – a discussion I mistakenly started at breakfast, (he won’t eat his toast but is beyond excited about eating the fork!)
Creative Thinking is a Soft Skill apparently but creative thinking is my BEST THING! In fact I have a lot of difficulty with un- creative thinking. How can THINKING be described as Soft.
My grandmother used to wear her silk knickers inside-out because she did not like the feel of the seams against her skin – that might be construed as Soft. Eating fresh baked bread and butter until you feel sick is Soft, (I am sitting quietly until I feel a little better). Having a spell check program check your spelling and grammar as you type is Soft. ( Though I am grateful). Spreadsheets soften my whole life into manageable line sized pieces. Spreadsheets are SOFT!! ( She says sulkily)
Stuff like multi tasking, attention to detail, digging into the minutiae of a task, language, communication, anticipating a problem and fixing it before the bosses even knew there was going to be a problem that would need fixing, leadership, smiling into the phone, negotiation, facilitation. Not Soft! I don’t care what the resume experts say. Not Soft.
You can learn a new program, you can find an online course for any one of them, we can all do an Aunty Google Search. But how does a person learn to lead. How can someone learn courage or inquisitiveness. We do not have detailed instructions on how to anticipate and solve a problem. I think I prefer the word talent. Because talents are not learned they are developed from experience – long experience coupled with innate ability. Thoughtful work. Talent.
And, by the way, now I have a 10 year old laying on my bed writing a story, from a prompt I wrote for her, about a girl called Plum who has a room full of spiders making webs that Plum then weaves into dresses. The 10 year old just introduced a basket of bread. She is developing a Soft Talent – story telling – one of the most important Soft Skills of all. Not SOFT!
No, Our Soft Skills are not a Soft Touch. We work damn Hard on them.
Now I want to know about your Soft Skills that are really Talents that need applause and prizes. Because The Fellowship does not take kindly to being called SOFT!
Have a lovely day now.
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Or as Cecilia Gunther on LinkedIn