Soft Skills Worth Learning

Next to writing, what other skills should we, as aspiring indie authors, try to develop? It’s been on my mind for weeks. This constant desire to improve upon myself and to expand my influence with others brings the question to my mind over and over again.  Soft skills,” is what my heart whispers.   Soft skills, Jaime? What are those?   Ahhh, I’m glad you asked — because they’re actually delightful. That is, unless you’re an inherit jerk or jackass (which means it took ME quite a while to develop them…).   I like to refer to these as personality skills. The ability to work with others, make friends and connections, take corrections, or learn from others. To be an all around decent person.   There are ten general categories when it comes to soft skills, so take a look below and see where you excel...and where you may need some work (don’t worry, we can all do better, not just me):   HOW YOU COMMUNICATE is more than the words you use. It’s also your body language, how well you listen to others and interact with them. Are you the type of person that customers prefer to talk to? That would be a good indication that you score high in this area. I deeply love people and seek new relationships all the time.   TECHNICAL KNOWLEDGE, specifically with computers is essential nowadays. This includes registers, printing machines, even accounting or manufacturing programs. Even if you don’t know a certain program, having previous experience in some form of technology will assist you in learning curves—especially in today’s environment. I’m not very technical, but I’ve learned how to make my own website for Wanted:Hero, record/edit podcasts, develop this blog, and even publish my own books.   INTERPERSONAL ABILITIES are essential for growth. Being able to work with others and to resolve conflicts of any nature are a huge advantage in the workplace. Heck they’re a hugs advantage in life. I communicate with people over the phone and email constantly—both solving problems and developing mutually beneficial relationships. The sad reality is that this particular skill is being lost in the ‘culture wars’ — so many wanting to focus on what makes us different, rather than what we have in common.   CAN YOU ADAPT? Life does not hold still for anyone and it’s rare to have a project, no matter how well it is thought out and organized, to go as planned. Trends end, industries change, environments shift, and the constant development of new technology every six months can tax anyone. Your ability to learn and grow with the demands of your job or opportunity will place you at an advantage to those unwilling to stretch.   RESEARCH is a common requirement nowadays. In the age of information, your employers or clients don’t have the ability (nor desire) to hold your hand. You have to be willing and able to learn whatever is required to get the job done. That means seeking out information yourself, clarifying it (yes, people lie, and it’s your job to uncover that) assessing situations and developing multiple perspectives.   Indie authors are forced to do their research if they have any hope of being successful, especially long-term. You have to find the right keywords, long-tale keywords, categories, market trends, what makes your competitors successful, and the list goes on an on, depending on what aspect of publishing and marketing we’re talking about.   PROJECT MANAGEMENT skill sets are highly prized by any employer. Organization, planning, and keeping all the related tasks on track to the finishing line. Sadly this very skill has always eluded me personally — and I still struggle to perform outside my own working habits of one. Just be aware that more and more employers are expecting this to be a standard trait in many that they hire.   Never have I seen more organized people, than since I started working on the WorldAnvil platform. Truly amazing creatives — and organization seems to be as easy as breathing to many of the two million users.   ARE YOU A PROBLEM SOLVER? Can you call upon past experiences (and reason) through challenges? Can your boss or client give you a task and simply walk away, knowing you’ll accomplish it? If the company you work for finds themselves in a sticky situation, those who can creatively and effectively solve it will be sure to be promoted (or rewarded) first.   STREAMLINING is essential in this ever-evolving landscape. Every company is striving to improve upon methods of communication, manufacturing, customer service, response time and more. Individuals who have a natural tendency to trim processes and make the flow more efficient are highly prized in any organizations.   I personally know of a young man who simply noticed patterns, suggest to the cabinet manufacturer he worked for, that materials for a mundane task be moved closer to work stations. That single suggestion, closing a gap in time, saved the company an extra $120,000 a year. Making a few more adjustments increased the company’s profits by over $300K a year.   This young man is now consulting with other cabinet manufacturers and building a residual income. These companies pay him a percentage of their increased profits as a direct result of his suggestions!   WORK ETHICS are not as common as one would think. The United States of America is dying from a generation unwilling to work. TV personality Mike Rowe shared conversations with business owners suffering all across the country, because they can’t find anyone willing to show up to work. In one conversation, a contractor was frustrated, saying even offering a starting wage of $30/hr hasn’t been enough to motivate men to show. Is it any wonder why businesses hire illegals, if citizens aren’t willing to do the work that needs to be done?   Do you have the drive and ability to stay self- motivated? Do you strive to do the job the ‘right’ way (as instructed) the first time? Do you strive to correct your own mistakes and go the extra mile to be of service? Are you honest in your labors and give an honest days work for an honest days pay?   SOCIAL SKILLS are not always talked about—but your level of emotional maturity and emotional intelligence is becoming increasingly important. How you self-govern/manage, and how you deal with others is becoming closely watched in many fields. Do you take correction and instruction well? How would you do if thrown into an openly social environment where people skills are key to your success and you had to rely on relationships you made to achieve your end goals?   I was told just two months ago of a teen, barely turned 16, hired on full-time at a local manufacturing plant. Many of the boys friends worked there, making starting wages — but when management heard this youth was looking for his first job, they argued with the owners. While no one questioned whether or not to hire the boy — management wanted to start him at 150% higher wages than his friend.   Seems this youth was known in the community for his service, his respect of adults and authority, and his taking full responsibility and accountability for his choices. That, to management, was worth its weight in gold.   The youth was hired, though only for 50% more than his peers — and within 45 days, was transferred to management. He now works directly with those who had admired and fought for him, due to his character. So the whole notion of "it’s not important what others people think of you," is only a half-truth.   There you have it — soft skills that place any individual at the top of the hiring list for virtually any field. Do you think I missed anything?   Let me know.
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