Experts say yes. Suhail Masri, VP - Employer Solutions of bayt.com, gives a few tips on how to improve your interpersonal skills.
Better known as interpersonal or people skills, soft skills are a set of skills that allow you to positively relate to, communicate with, influence and inspire others; and in an era of high employment turnover and mobility, soft skills could be the arsenal that ensures your marketability, increases your professional competitive advantage and eases your transition into any new role.
The importance of soft skills in hiring has never been more evident. Results from the Bayt.com 'Skills Gap in the Middle East' survey (May 2016) show that it is still challenging for employers to find candidates with the required skill sets, particularly for senior positions. In fact, 57 per cent of them say that finding candidates for senior positions with the required skills is difficult, with 'soft skills' regarded as most lacking, as opposed to 'technical' skills. Skills such as 'critical thinking' (62%), 'adaptability' (60%) and 'creative thinking' (59%) are seen by UAE employers as the most difficult skills to find at a senior level.
Why are soft skills so critical for career success? Decades of research have shown that soft skills are the inventory of assets that help a candidate transition into and excel in a new role. Soft skills ensure professional resilience and the robustness and longevity of a career. While technical skills may be essential to building your own personal competitive advantage and ensuring success in a particular role or organisation, soft skills ensure that you do not become professionally redundant or obsolete over the long term.
Here are a few tips to help you acquire the soft skills employers in the UAE are looking for:
1- Identify your strengths
Self-awareness gained through rigorous, systematic and ongoing self-assessment is essential to ensuring your marketability. There are plenty of sophisticated self-assessment tests that allow you to analyse your own personal strengths. You can also go through a skills checklist and tick all the ones that you are confident apply to you. Enlist the help of your boss or peers or family if you would like a sounding board of external feedback and advice.
2- Know what skills are in demand
When you're starting a new job search, it is important to understand the market in your country, and to learn what skills and qualifications are in highest demand. Read industry articles and guides, or even research reports on a regular basis. Doing your research will help you know more about the job role, the career and the company as you plan your own shift.
3- Learn new skills
Across the region, when respondents were asked to select the main reason why they felt job seekers have difficulties in finding jobs matching their skills, the fact that 'job seekers do not know what employers are looking for' (34%) and that 'educational institutions do not teach students the skills they need to enter the job market' (22%) topped the list. Once you identify the skills that are most in demand in the current market, look for ways to acquire the ones that will propel your career forward. Take the time to evaluate formal training courses, be it through formal classroom settings or one-on-one coaching and mentoring sessions or even online self-learning. Peer mentoring and book clubs are also great ways to even out skills gaps and ensure your skills are always up to date.
4- Commit to lifelong learning
Learning need not take you away from the workplace for any extended period of time; you can pursue a learning programme while you work. Whatever gaps you identified between your skill sets and interests can be filled with a very diligent and consistent programme of study. In today's workplace, learning is very much adopted as a lifelong commitment, so be prepared to be in it for the long term. An easy way to always stay in-the-know is through professional networking platforms that empower professionals every day to learn and share their knowledge and expertise and tell the stories that go far beyond a CV, while also helping employers discover these stories, and learn what these professionals are all about.
(Bayt.com is the #1 job site in the Middle East with more than 40,000 employers and over 24,500,000 registered job seekers from across the Middle East, North Africa and the globe. For more information, log on to www.bayt.com.)