By Alison Stanton —
If you are thinking about getting a summer job or a part-time job during the school year, you might be worried that you don’t really have the specific skills that employers are looking for. After all, you are a teenager who has been in school your whole life, so you have not really had the time to go out and get training for a bunch of jobs.
Actually, you probably already have a number of skills that employers are interested in. In addition to “hard skills,” which are specific to the job—for example, knowing how to make lattes at Starbucks—hiring managers are also looking for what are called “soft skills,” which have to do more with your personality traits and habits.
What Exactly are Soft Skills?
As the Balance Careers notes, soft skills are interpersonal or “people” skills that are kind of challenging to define. They include important but often more vague qualities like being a good listener, having empathy for others, being creative and using your time in an efficient way.
While you can get any number of “hard skills” through your education and on-the-job training, soft skills are not really something that you learn about in a specific class in school.
Other example of soft skills include having a great work ethic, being a leader, knowing how to communicate with others, being dependable, flexible and having a lot of integrity.
Why Employers Value Soft Skills Too
If you have ever encountered an indifferent sales clerk in a clothing store who knew how to ring up your new pair of jeans and answered some basic questions in a monotone voice, you have already experienced the importance of soft skills in the workplace. Sure, the young woman had the knowledge to do the job, but she showed no personality at all and acted like she couldn’t wait to go home. On the other hand, if the same woman had been friendly and bubbly, in addition to knowing how to run the cash register, you would have felt she was a much better employee.
This is why, while employers may be looking for people with certain hard skills, they will also want to hire workers who are great with the customers and will be enthusiastic about coming to work. As a side note, your soft skills will be used in any number of jobs, and will be important your entire life. While you won’t be able to use the same hard skills you learn at Starbucks in most other jobs, your ability to communicate clearly, get along with others and be a good listener will be important in virtually any job you get.
How to Highlight Your Soft Skills
Once you find a job that you want to apply for, think about the soft skills that you already have that would be helpful for this type of work, and include them on your resume. For instance, if you want to apply at a local grocery store as a bagger, you could include things like “great work ethic,” “hard worker,” “enjoys meeting new people” and “is always punctual” on your resume. If you get called in for an interview, be friendly and pay close attention to what the manager is saying; this will also show him and her how you have the soft skills of being able to interact with people you don’t know and how you are a good listener.
Good Luck with Your Job Search!
As you start applying for jobs, don’t let any lack of hard skills discourage you. Remember that you have plenty of soft skills that are just as important to do these jobs, and will make you a valued employee.