In a previous blog post, “Five ways to be a great employee”, we looked at what makes a great employee and outlined five factors that employers may consider when evaluating whether someone is the right “cultural fit” for a company.
With more firms beginning to recognise the importance of this cultural fit, it’s becoming increasingly important that financial professionals have not only the requisite technical skills, such as ACCA, CIMA or CTA qualifications, to do their job but also the “soft” skills, such as negotiating, presenting, or emotional intelligence.
What are soft skills?
Unlike technical skills, soft skills aren’t about what you know but rather about how you behave in different situations. Many of these soft skills are often transferable across careers so you may find that you already possess many of the necessary personality traits. Quite a few could be involved in a role, with some of the most sought-after being:
- Communication skills: this involves knowing how you should speak to others in different situations or settings and finding a skilful way to disagree if you think an idea or process isn’t working
- Teamwork: this brings into play a combination of skills, such as planning and organising, decision-making, problem-solving, communication, influencing and conflict resolution
- Adaptability: in our technology-driven world where tools and processes change quickly, this is a must
- Conflict resolution: learning how to relieve stress in the moment and being able to react in a constructive way even when there is a perceived threat is key to this skill
- Leadership & negotiation skills: this involves active listening, problem analysis, the ability to make decisions and maintaining good relationships
- Problem-solving: employers value people who are able to resolve issues quickly and effectively; this may involve drawing upon your technical skills as well as consulting with colleagues
- Presenting: this requires practice so watch other good presenters to see how they do it. Use positive visualisation to imagine the outcome you want. As presentations can often be one-sided, try to encourage audience participation by asking what they think and invite questions
- Emotional intelligence: most people will already be familiar with this concept from Daniel Goleman’s best-selling book “Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ” and involves the ability of individuals to recognise their own emotions and those of others, differentiate between different feelings and label them to help guide their thinking and behaviour in different environments.
How to improve your soft skills
The key is to focus on the skills you want to improve on from the list above and practice them. You can do this by setting measurable goals for each skill you want to improve on and there are lots of useful learning resources available, including:
Books: there are so many books available on a wide range of subjects, including classics such as Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People” as well as more recent ones
Online courses: this type of learning might suit you better and there are plenty of online courses available covering many topics, particularly communication and leadership skills. Platforms such as Udemy, LinkedIn Learning, Coursera and Future Learn are just a few available that offer hundreds of courses in a range of subjects.
As with all skills, the more you are prepared to invest in and practice them, the more they are likely to develop and improve over time.
Here at Artemis Clarke we can help
Recruiting staff can be a time consuming and costly process and we can carry out a full psychological assessment of a candidate by looking at, amongst other things, their ability to handle complexity, think strategically, interact with others and handle conflict. Get in touch today for an initial consultation on 0117 244 1891 or email firstname.lastname@example.org