As a Black woman working in the corporate world, you can agree with me that it takes a lot of extra effort to climb up the career ladder. Career development does not just happen overnight. Rather, it’s a result of consistent action towards accomplishing your goals. One of the best kept secrets of corporate is that, on your journey towards career development, you will need to develop certain soft skills to set you apart from everyone else. These soft skills have been identified as being vital for the achievement of your goal. What are these skills? You may be wondering to yourself. Don’t worry, I got you. But before then, let’s make sure that we are on the same page about what soft skills are. Soft skills are a set of abilities that an individual possesses, which equips them to handle certain jobs or responsibilities. Not the technical skills that you acquire to be able to do the function of your job, but the skills that allow you to navigate the unwritten rules of Corporate America. Soft skills are needed in your career development journey. Listed below are soft skills you need to be intentional about developing for your career success.
1. Communication Skill
Communication does not just involve talking and getting feedback. It is both verbal and non-verbal, meaning you can communicate even without uttering a word. You know that look you can’t help giving when someone tries you at work, yup, that’s definitely communicating something. Communication skills is one soft skill that unfortunately is given little or no attention. However, if you succeed in mastering the art of communication, your career success is guaranteed. Different kinds of relationships exist in the workplace, and as a result, the communication methods required may vary. For instance, the way you communicate with your boss is different from the way you communicate with your people who work for you and colleagues. There is virtually no aspect of the corporate world where communication is not required. You need communication to convince your next client. You also need this skill to pitch your ideas to your boss. So give attention to developing your communication skill and while you are at it, also give attention to your listening skill (but that’s a conversation for another time).
You can’t say that you have mastered this soft skill until you face a situation that requires you to work outside set rules. One that pushes you so far out of your comfort zone, that you are forced to consider options that were once foreign to you. Now, I am not saying that routes are bad, because they are not. Routines help to give you and your organization some kind of structure, which you need to be successful. But you also need to be very flexible. Your dream job may demand that you wear different hats at different times. Developing this soft skill will ensure that you are not overwhelmed when these demands are made on you.
The workplace is made up of people from different walks of life, working collaboratively to achieve a common goal. Mastering teamwork, therefore, is vital to your success. It may be challenging sometimes, working in a team especially where the only common ground among the members may be the project at hand. But if you begin to see group projects as opportunities to learn and form meaningful relationships, you will be able to work better with people. Also, understand that the best way to develop this skill is by working in a team so don't shy away from the next group project.
Organizations exist to solve problems and meet needs. One of the easiest ways to stay ahead and remain relevant in your career is to be known as a problem solver. Think of that individual that everybody goes to when there is a problem to solve. Check where they are now and how they started and you will discover they have witnessed consistent growth. You can develop your problem solving by engaging your critical thinking ability and looking out for new ways to provide solutions.
5. Time Management Skills
Time management skill is perhaps one of the most important, yet difficult soft skills to develop. Everything that happens in the organization is time-based. What this means is that if you can develop this skill, you will be more productive and achieve more. This can give your career a great boost. In recent times, the emphasis for hiring managers has shifted from hard skills to soft skills. Career development is no longer just about the hard skills you have acquired but your ability to combine them with the relevant soft skills to achieve organizational goals.