In today's tough marketplace it's difficult enough to secure employment. Not only do you have to ensure that you have relevant industry experience, training and references, you also have to put it all on paper in a way that gets you noticed by employers.
But that’s just one aspect of establishing yourself. In order to succeed and get ahead, you need to tune into your “soft skills” – such as listening to those around you and being a team player.
Getting yourself hired
Hard skills like your educational background and past work experience will be a key factor in determining whether you are invited to interview, and your ability to present yourself as well in person as you did on paper will go a long way to getting you the job. So far, so good. But what happens once you've made it through the grueling recruitment process and you find yourself on the threshold of a glittering career?
Fitting in to your new environment
Well, first off you may want to pause and take stock of things. The first point to consider is that your paper credentials and your confident interview persona won't garner you the same respect in the workplace. Remember, you're the new person in the company regardless of how experienced you are or how expert you may be in your field. Now that you've joined the team, it's no longer just about you. Start off by getting to know your colleagues and learn how to fit in to the organisation's culture. Unless you demonstrate your willingness to be part of the group, and to respect the rules, it's unlikely that you will be able to develop effective work relations or cooperate effectively with others.
Learning the soft touch
Too many skilled individuals find themselves unable to realise their potential because they mistakenly assume that the only thing that counts is their ability to perform a task. It goes without saying that being productive and efficient at your job is vital, but if you aren't able to deal effectively with those around you then your value to the company will be severely impaired. In certain professions like marketing or sales, where employees deal with clients directly, this effect is heightened.
Winning friends and influencing people
By developing the soft skills associated with effective workplace interactions, you will find yourself better able to perform your own tasks as you learn to work cooperatively and benefit from the insights of others. At the same time, you will gain recognition from clients and colleagues for your ability to facilitate their interactions and smooth over the problems that may arise. Becoming adept at such skills as conflict resolution, negotiation, team building and creative problem solving will stand you in good stead to face any challenges as you look to establish yourself as a valuable team member.
Moving up the ranks
Thinking longer-term, it is clear that possessing a well-developed set of behavioural competencies will serve as an excellent recommendation for career advancement. Employees are singled out for promotion not only because they can do their work efficiently but because they are trusted and respected by their team. For this reason, you are more likely to be rewarded with a promotion than someone else who possesses the same, or a better, qualification but who lacks effective people skills. If you have ambitions to become a supervisor or to join the company's management then you will need to demonstrate that you can deal effectively with others and motivate them to perform under your leadership.
What do you think? Will you be able to apply these guidelines to your professional life? Share your thoughts below.
Improve your management skills during the 8-week University of Cape Town Effective People Management course, presented part-time and entirely online throughout South Africa from 8 October 2012. For more information contact Dominic on +27 (21) 447 7565 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, visit www.getsmarter.co.za.