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Whether you have worked remotely or in the office throughout 2020, have been furloughed or have moved position and company (probably also remotely), you will undoubtedly have gained new soft skills or honed existing ones. In a time of crisis, it can be easy to feel dejected, but in such times, you also build resilience. Having to adapt to new ways of working means improving your cognitive agility as well as developing existing and new soft skills.
Finance and accounting job specs are very often task and software-led, i.e. focused on the hard and technical skills needed for the role. One must not forget, however, the importance of soft skills and the role they play in determining how an employee will perform in the role and adapt to the company culture. Demonstrating yours may be the difference between you obtaining the role over another candidate.
This has always been the case but 2021 will likely see hiring managers increasingly demanding soft skills, not simply through a two-dimensional list on a CV but demonstrated in real, tangible ways. Such skills are imperative in difficult times, and businesses will be going into 2021 more risk-averse than ever.
So rather than view 2020 only through ‘it’s been a challenge’ eyes, take stock and consider how unexpected changes to your ways of working have actually improved your soft skills.
Below are some examples of the soft skills you may have developed more intensely this year, but by no means an exhaustive list:
Better communication– working online (Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google hangouts, and many more) has not been easy this year, cutting out vital face-to-face interactions with colleagues and new or existing clients alike. Undertaking meetings digitally
is different, and doing so competently has improved your communication skills.
Losing informal communication (e.g. water cooler chat) is just as significant, and the creative ways people have found around this equally so.
More efficient collaboration
– while working independently has been a key (up)skill for many this year, working truly collaboratively, and well, will be an attractive quality on the soft skills list. There’s nowhere to hide when it comes to remote teamwork.
Independent problem solving– for many, working alone has allowed greater hours committed to focused activity which can lead to greater productivity – not just in the sense of volume of work but also the quality of it.
– irrespective of your current level of seniority, valuable leadership skills will have been gained this year. Diplomacy, tact, delegation, and teamwork among others have been crucial this year, regardless of level of seniority. If you are among the senior executive, 2020 likely allowed you the time and space to consider your current leadership style and what is and isn’t effective.
When it comes to including your soft skills when applying for jobs remember a) to include it everywhere: from your cover letter to your intro on your CV and in interview, and b) be specific, remembering your application may be parsed by a real person or an automated system, or a combination of the two.
Rather than using generic terms that are already over-used by candidates (e.g. team player, hard worker etc) describe your soft skills and then demonstrate them. So you have great leadership skills. How? Tell, but more importantly, show.
Edward Mann’s specialist recruiters can assist you in finding the right job move where you can fully utilise your skills and plan your personal growth to ensure a bright future. Our consultants will help you at every step of the way, offering application support and interview advice to ensure you make the right impression.