‘Soft Skills’ are Power Skills

Posted by | July 19, 2022 | Career changers, Find your mission, For your career, How I got my dream job, Job hunters, Looking for work

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By Andrew Tui

I don’t know about you, but when I hear the term soft skills I cringe and tense a little inside. It takes me back to the early 2000s when soft skills were seen as the light and fluffy items that appeared in a separate section on your CV – they were after-thought, almost like the poor cousins who envied the more popular technical and hard skills. 

It’s hard to think that communication, time management, teamwork and problem solving could be so unfairly under-represented, heck, most job interviews today are likely to have questions about those skills!  

The word ‘soft’ gives the impression that these skills (especially those of the interpersonal kind) are light-weight and lacking substance. Not only is the term out-dated and gender-biased, but it also devalues the worth and meaning that many cultures place on these essential skills.

So instead, I encourage you to embrace the term power skills, representing the many wonderful abilities that allow you to engage and work effectively in the workplace. Think of power skills as the energy sources that allow you to thrive and contribute in an organisation – sparking connections, building teams, improving productivity, and allowing for a great work culture. 

Power skills (aka human skills) have also been described as ways of thinking and being that allow us to manage our own mental health aswell as interact with and navigate through social situations with others. 

Now that we have been ‘em-powered’ by this new term, here are the top 5 power skills that employers love in Aotearoa.

1. Adaptability. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that you need to be prepared for the unexpected! The shift in how organisations operate highlights the need for employees to be open to change and to roll with the punches. 

2. Cultural Awareness. As a nation that boasts over 200 different ethnicities, the need to understand and appreciate the cultural differences is more important than ever. Taking the time to learn about team members’ cultures is a great place to start. 

3. Creativity. With the ‘Number 8 Wire’ mentality in our psyche, many organisations love employees who can innovate, share creative ideas, and are willing to try new things out. 

4. Leadership. No matter what role you’re in, we all have the ability to express leadership through our acts of service, duties and responsibilities. Our actions directly impact others.

5. Emotional Intelligence. This is the ability to recognise your own emotions, as well as the emotions of others in the workplace. Being attuned to others allows for healthier relationships and a more harmonious place to work.   

These represent only a small sample of power skills, but I encourage you to reflect on the skills and attributes you have that allow you to thrive and contribute in the workplace. 

Go a step further and think of the great examples from your employment, voluntary work, groups, clubs and hobbies where you’ve demonstrated these skills.  

Once identified, super-charge them and clearly showcase these on your CV, online profiles and job applications. Feel empowered to talk about them in interviews. 

In the words of the mighty and industrious He-Man – “I have the power!”

In the words of the 90s cartoon superhero Captain Planet – “The power is yours!”

 

 

About Andrew Tui

Andrew Tui is a Career Specialist working in Aotearoa and has more than twelve years of experience working with a diverse range of clients and communities. Check out his podcast Career Coffee Chats where he and his guests explore and inspire. Helping people is Andrew’s passion and through his writing he shares valuable insights and reflections on the ‘world of work’ and beyond.

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