Top 10 Soft Skills to Improve in 2021
When looking at getting a new job in tech many professionals focus only on their technical competencies. In doing so, they try to learn every tool and software program that they might need in their future work. Yet, they neglect their soft skills completely - it’s as if these skills play no part in their workplace.
However, soft skills are equally, if not more, important to develop and learn about when you’re trying to land your dream job, and even more crucial for future career growth.
We don’t want you to make the same mistake as other professionals, so we’ve put together a list of the ten most in-demand soft skills in 2021. And we’ve even added some extra tips on how to improve them below.
Read on to discover what soft skills you need to improve in 2021.
The ability to communicate effectively is crucial for any career in any area. And the tech field is no exception.
Regardless of your position and job level in a workplace, you will have to communicate a lot with coworkers or/and clients.
Plus, due to the pandemic many companies have moved entirely, or partially, to remote work so teams have had to learn to communicate in different ways, so that they can avoid misunderstandings.
Today the ability to listen to others and to express your thoughts clearly is more important than ever.
The workspace transformed significantly in 2020. And the pandemic showed everyone that you had to be able to adapt and be flexible if you wanted to succeed in the changing environment, whether you were a company or an individual.
We all saw that sometimes things didn’t go as planned, and things had to be developed quickly to avoid catastrophe.
Now, employers are looking for candidates who can deal with new challenges, come up with creative solutions, and adapt to changes quickly in their workplace.
Teamwork is another skill that is in high demand.
Even if it seems like your day-to-day tasks don’t require much interaction with other colleagues these days, it’s still essential that each employee see his or her work in the context of the company's broader goals.
Plus, employers across all industries need professionals who can collaborate with others in an empathetic, efficient and responsible manner.
So, learning how to balance being an individual contributor and being a collaborative team member is very important in the workplace today.
#4 Critical Thinking
In tech, professionals often deal with complex problems. So, their ability to analyze situations, think rationally and understand the logical connection between ideas is crucial.
Critical thinking allows them to make informed decisions and to address problems based on all available facts and information.
This is essential if you plan on working in tech.
#5 Analytical Abilities
Analytical thinking is another skill that is in high demand in many fields. And it is especially true for the tech industry.
Analytical skills means that an individual can investigate issues, observe, research, and interpret their findings in order to find the best possible solution.
For example, testers use such skills when trying to determine why a part of the software program they’ve created doesn’t work as expected.
As our world rapidly changes, companies across the world have had to come up with innovative solutions to survive.
And employers are currently looking for professionals who can think outside of the box, approach tasks in a not-so-obvious way, and use their imagination to generate new ideas in their businesses. These creative solutions from employees will allow companies to thrive in an age of uncertainty.
#7 Problem Solving
Another skill that can be applied for work in any field and position is problem-solving.
The ability to react well in unexpected situations and to solve unfamiliar problems, both in conventional and creative ways, is highly valued.
Problem-solving requires not only creativity, analytical skills, and critical thinking but you also need to have a particular mindset. Instead of thinking about how a specific problem makes the work harder in a workplace, an individual must focus on finding the best solution and to move forwards.
#8 Time Management
Proficiency in time management is another highly valued skill in tech.
Teams working on a project in the tech field usually have to meet set deadlines, so that a company can fulfill its obligations to customers.
Recruiters are always looking for candidates who can prioritize tasks, organize their work schedules efficiently and deliver results in time.
#9 Social Awareness
Social awareness may not be a skill that you think applies in the tech world, but it really is important.
As we have mentioned before, when working in tech you’ll almost always be interacting with other people - these can be managers, team members or clients. Which means that the ability to relate to others' feelings, needs, concerns and to see things from other people’s perspective is imperative.
If you are aware of what's going on around you and how others feel you can often avoid a lot of conflicts too. A healthy atmosphere in a workspace, in turn, ensures high team productivity.
And that is something every employer wants.
And finally, another skill that proved to be incredibly important over the past year, particularly as many companies moved to remote work, is self-motivation.
It’s not always easy to stay productive when working from home. Particularly when there are all kinds of distractions around you and nobody is there supervising you.
The ability to keep going, even in the face of set-backs, and to show commitment and willingness to complete tasks is highly valued by employers.
Now that you know which soft skills recruiters will be looking for in 2021, let's talk about what to do if you’d like to improve some of your current soft skills.
How to Improve Your Soft Skills?
Even though soft skills cannot be taught as easily as technical information, you can undoubtedly develop and improve your soft skills over time. Here are a few actionable steps to start with.
- The first thing you want to do is to identify your strong skills and your weaker skills. You can do that through self-reflection and you can ask for feedback from your friends, family members or colleagues.
- Once you know what skills you need to improve, think about how your friends or coworkers master these skills. Observe people, pay attention to how they interact with others and even ask them for some advice to improve your own skills.
- Another way to develop a new soft skill is to take a course. Nowadays, you can learn practically anything online. Websites such as Coursera, Udemy and edX offer classes on various topics: from communication to time management, and from creativity to problem-solving.
- And the last but crucial step is to practice a lot! No coach or class can make you good at a particular skill, you have to put your knowledge into practice.
The time and effort you invest in improving your soft skills now will pay off in the future.
It’s often your soft skills that make recruiters take your resume out of the "good candidate" pile and put it into the "ideal candidate" pile.
Plus, you need to remember that most of the soft skills you learn are transferable to any role. So, acquiring a varied range of soft skills will help you to become more successful no matter where you work or what you do.