Soft Skills and Personal Branding for CV’s and Interviews

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Soft Skills Audit

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‘Soft skills’ are increasingly valued within organisations. Your ability to influence your career with others is essential in getting what you really want from work and life. Undervalued by those with ‘traditional’ functional competence, but essential for ‘getting on’.

The quick Soft Skills Audit below builds on on your Personal Branding by understanding your soft skills across 15 areas. Although not all-embracing, it will provide you with valuable material for defining what you want, marketing yourself through your CV or resume, and selling yourself in the interview situation. Rating yourself against each skill has value in itself. However, by also providing examples, you will have the material necessary for interview – good interviewers ask for examples (episodic or competence-based interviewing).

We have throughout this site talked about how you can think about the career you want in terms of a group of skills (including soft skills), rather than identify a job title. Increasingly employers are understanding the concept of ‘transferability of skills’. You can read an interesting academic article by Kathryn L Shaw on the subject here.

Although ‘soft skills’ usually refers to skills that are associated with interaction, we have broadened the definition for the audit. This is so you can gain a more holistic view of your skills.

Before taking the Soft Skills Audit towards the bottom of this page, you may also wish to undertake a short skills check-list. You can download this by completing the form below. This will also register you with us for new article and tips of getting the right career.

Please provide your name and email address for your free download.

Soft Skills: What’s Hot?

According to the UK’s National Careers Service, employers are particularly looking for certain soft skills. These are:

Communicating

Perhaps the most important of soft skills. This is about getting along with others, listening attentively, understanding directions, and changing your style of communication to meet the needs of the other person. It is a very all-embracing soft skill, and includes speaking to groups, selling concepts and products, and written communication in a way that a person understands.

Decision Making

This is about actually making a decision, but one based on analysis. Analysis can be in many forms and includes creating a range of options and alternatives. It is about judgement in decision-making, and considering risks and opportunities. Interestingly, some personality types struggle with making decisions at all. Find out if you are a natural decision maker through our personality test.

Being Committed and Resilient

Employers want staff that will be ‘engaged’ and actively contribute to their business, rather than just doing the job. Sure, reliability, dependability and hard-working are all expected. But going the extra mile for your employer generally means more profit for the business. Resilience means getting up again after a knock or a failure. For our recruitment agency, we are seeing a growth in the need for resilience in employees.

Personal Change and Adaptation

There is little choice. The world is moving faster, and so is the world of work. Companies that react to changes survive, whilst those that do not, slowly sink. With the nature of work changing so rapidly, unless you change and adapt, then you are likely to be labelled as a ‘dinosaur’ or ‘yesterday’s person’. Not nice, but it is the way it is. When employers see a ‘can do’ approach, it becomes a big tick on the interview scoring sheet. A great soft skill for progressing your career.

Self and Time Management

Resources are stretched within all but the most cash-rich organisations. This s unlikely to change. Staff increasingly ‘double-hat’ (do more than one job), and as organisations restructure or down-size, the work still has to be done. That means organisations want people who are efficient, and can decide priorities based on objectives and pay-back to the business. It means ‘spinning plates’ continuously, and maximising outputs.

Leading Others

Organisations look for actual leadership skills, or the ‘potential’ for developing leadership skills. This is possibly one of the oldest required set of soft skills, and things will not change for the foreseeable future. Being positive, showing your ability to listen, make decisions, and do what is right are important aspects for those seeking leadership roles.

Creativity and Problem-Solving Soft Skills

Although these are two separate sets of soft skills, problem solving is a continual need within any organisation. As the pace of organisations increases, problems have to be solved at a faster pace or there is usually a profit implication. The creativity can be both logical or theoretical (wacky). Of course, if you find the problem and come to your boss with a range of possible solutions, then that is just about perfect!

Taking Ownership

That means the buck stops with you. Get it right, and it is you that is praised. Get it wrong, and it is your responsibility. The days of being ‘pulled over coals’ for making the wrong decision are slowly disappearing. Have a logically argument for why you made the wrong decisions, and it is usually allowable. Next time you are in that meeting, just say, “I will look after that”.

Soft Skills Audit Notes to Think Through Your Career Choices

Note 1: Areas for development very much depend on your desires and these will have been informed by your PersonalityCulture Fit and Personal Values questionnaires. Think about the following examples. These are extremes and you may wish to pursue a combination of these:

  • Generalist – it may be that you want to be a generalist. In this case simply raising their lowest percentage scores may be best.
  • Specialist 1 – you may want to further enhance those scores where you are already competent to assure that competence. In this case you need to simply find those areas you are already competent in and further develop them.
  • Specialist 2 – you could simply want roles in the future utilising those competencies that you enjoy most which you may/may not already be competent in. In this case they would design your development concentrating on those areas.
  • Role specific – you may already have formed some ideas about the type of role you wish to develop into. In this case, you need to get feedback or second-guess the competence requirements of the role. Then plot yourself against those needs. This will produce ‘development gaps’. Your development should then focus on those gaps.

Note 2: When defining the solutions to the areas for development, remember to think laterally. A training course is just way of developing an area. What about:

  • Self-learning/development – reading, web-based training, external courses.
  • Coaching, being mentored and shadowing.
  • Delegation from above, peers and those reporting to the person on a temporary basis, for very defined tasks, or as part of job enlargement.
  • Secondment or attachment, and so on.

Welcome to your Soft Skills Questionnaire

‘Soft’ skills determine whether you will achieve what you want from your future career far more than technical or functional skills. Although the technical skills are critical in early career, there are dangers in being seen as a purely functional specialist. The label sticks and the opportunities and development offered by the business will be largely within the functional or technical remit. Consequently, it becomes difficult to obtain the experiences necessary for success (and sometimes survival) in today’s fast-moving and uncertain world of work. Notice how many functional specialists reach a plateau in their late 30’s. Lacking the skills to influence their destiny, they are left behind in their careers without a network or contacts that enable them to further their careers.

Skills are one of your main sales points. These can be part of your USP package for Personal Branding, and consequently effect how you position your CV or resume, and how you sell yourself at interview. They can also help you decide on the most prudent personal development plan for getting to where you want to be in your career.

On the following soft skills questionnaire there are a wide variety of broad skill categories. Each category has a number of associated questions.

As always, please ensure you are honest with yourself as you can be. Try to score each item as quickly as possible with off-the-cuff answers rather than highly considered thoughts.

We do require an email address and your name so that your questionnaire results can be sent to your inbox.

Full Name (will not be passed to others)Email
1) When managing others, how often do you hold regular formal and informal team briefings, and ensure that all general communications reach all members of staff in equal proportions?
2) How knowledgeable and good are you at choosing the right methods for collecting information and data ?
3) How competent are you at speaking clearly and with impact?
4) How good are you at exploring and valuing the differences between people (or do you treat all people the same)?
5) How frequently do you apply ideas from other people but recreate those ideas in new ways?
6) How good are you at providing regular and structured feedback outside the formal appraisal to others, and coaching/training others formally or informally in the workplace ?
7) How often do you delegate activities to others appropriately by judging and using their skills and abilities as the main factors?
8) How well do you construct your own approach to analysing problems (rather than using pre-existing approaches)?
9) How often do you see the job through to the finish no matter what obstacles are put in your way?
10) When leading others, how frequently do you demonstrate a clear vision, purpose and the expected outcomes from the team?
11) How competent are you at showing a positive attitude to change and receptivity to new ideas?
12) How good are you at prioritising your workload into short, medium and long-term tasks and establishing measurable objectives?
13) How competent are you at establishing or applying costs controls?
14) How good are you at living with uncertainty and not worrying about what might happen next?
15) How often do you actively seeks involvement in projects/tasks outside own area of responsibility?
16) How well do you maintain your flexibility and self-esteem when faced with conflict and hostility?
17) How well do you understands your own strengths, areas for improvement and development needs?
18) How well do you build a business case and at relating information that addresses issues, concerns, feelings and needs of others?
19) How well do you provide structured guidance on career paths others could take to a variety of people in the workplace?
20) How good are you at generating a range of practical solutions or proposals to a particular problem?
21) How often do you seek to exceed the required objectives and standards of performance at work?
22) To what degree are you often first to try out new ideas/ways of working?
23) When leading others, how well do you maintain morale, lead from the front when needed, and retains passion and a ‘can do/will do’ style to inspire others?
24) When leading others, how frequently do you set objectives with each member of staff and reward good performance and take necessary action against poor performance?
25) How competent are you at explaining complex/technical issues accurately and simply?
26) How good are you at accurately identifying/diagnosing the cause of the problem rather than the symptoms?
27) How competent are you at integrating budgets and operational plans and with the strategic vision?
28) How well do you incorporate information from a wide range of sources (rather than one or two main sources) when undertaking an analysis of a problem or issue?
29) To what extent are you clear about personal values, beliefs and goals?
30) How good are you at  ‘juggling several balls’ and 'spinning plates' continually (rather than focussing on a single task) to meet deadlines?
31) To what extent are you seen as open and approachable by staff, and ensure that you have active involvement from all members of staff?
32) When managing others, how well do you provide regular and objective feedback against performance and continual information to individual members of staff?
33) How well can manage ‘personal state’ (consciously and purposely being calm, excited, controlled, and so on, rather than wherever the mood takes you) in different situations?
34) How good are you at providing clear and concise written materials?
35) How creative at work do you think you are?
36) How good are you at supporting other peoples development by providing opportunities to practice new skills in the workplace?
37) How competent are you at applying a range of styles from autocratic to democratic decision-making depending on needs of the situation?
38) How good are you at using listening & questioning techniques to gain understanding?
39) To what extent do you use a wide variety of information and sources of expertise to make decisions?
40) How good are you at being open to influence from others (rather than just sticking to your guns)?
41) How well do you recognise trends and patterns in data, and able to extract the key issues from that data?
42) How competent are you at building a ‘case’ for budget setting, preparing financial budgets, and reviewing performance against budget?
43) How often do you come up with fresh ideas and looks for new ways of doing things?
44) How good are you at holding attention and creating impact when talking with other people?
45) How well do you encourage others to help you identify problems and analyse those issues?

Hopefully you have answered all the questions for best effect. Now click the button below to get your results. Please note that for this questionnaire, the results will also be sent to the email address that you stated at the start of the questionnaire.



 

When you have completed this section, you may wish to move on to your achievements. This is essential for both CV’s and interviews.

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