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Employers look for a variety of qualities and traits in job candidates. While you’ll always want to highlight the hard skills that are relevant to the position you’re applying for, there are also soft skills that could help you land a job, even if you’re a little less qualified than the other candidates.

Because it’s so important to develop these skills to impress potential employers, the members of Young Entrepreneur Council offer their insights on the soft skills they think are key to succeeding in any career and why you should develop them if you want to get hired.

What’s one key soft skill job candidates should look to develop if they want to impress potential employers, and why?

1. Structured thinking

One of the skills that impresses me the most in an interview is structured thinking. When a candidate rambles on without answering a single question, it raises a concern that the candidate is unable to think in an organized way and express themselves concisely. Proactive interview prep, or even a good Toastmaster’s class, can help a candidate learn to communicate in a concise and compelling way. —Cooper Harris, Klickly

2. Honesty

Honesty is very important. If a candidate honestly tells me their skill level and they express that they are willing to learn, that always impresses me. This type of person would always be honest with me in terms of what they need to grow in the company. I don’t want someone who lies about their strengths and weaknesses. —Piyush Jain, Simpalm

3. Listening

Listening is key. Many candidates prep so much for the questions that they think they’ll get, they fail to listen and be alert to ways, in the present, to showcase their talent. If you are anticipating answering a question a certain way, and the potential employer asks the question a degree differently, you risk embarrassment. Stay present and be a good listener. —Matthew Capala, Alphametic

4. Self-management

Candidates should develop self-management skills, or the ability to be proactive, to initiate, and to follow through, without needing someone to manage them all the time. You should be able to work on your own with little to zero assistance, and still be productive and come up with results. During the hiring process, show how well you can manage yourself. —Daisy Jing, Banish


5. Problem-solving

It’s always nice to speak with a candidate whom you can tell has strong problem-solving skills. So many people need to be told what to do and when to do it, and prefer to hit the daily bare minimum. It’s always impressive to work with someone who comes to you with a problem or challenge and already has a solution in mind. It’s honestly priceless. —Blair Thomas, eMerchantBroker

6. Communication

Strong communication skills that can solve problems will help a candidate impress an employer. Not many candidates can speak or write in a professional manner. Even fewer can use those skills to handle a scenario in real time. Candidates should know how to achieve synergy with writing and speaking, and catch any hypothetical curveballs thrown during an interview. —Duran Inci, Optimum7

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7. Adaptability

The key soft skill to develop is adaptability. Adaptability is your ability to handle change. Instead of trying to change your circumstances, you adapt. Learning to be adaptable will help you thrive no matter what is thrown your way. It is a vital leadership trait. Adaptable people tend to motivate, inspire, and lead. They tend to be well-respected, thus making them more viable candidates. —Jared Weitz, United Capital Source Inc.

8. The ability to sell yourself

If you want to impress potential employers, one skill that is important to develop is your ability to sell yourself. If you are looking for a new job and want to be successful in the interview process, it’s important to know how to answer questions and how to present yourself as an attractive candidate. —Kristin Kimberly Marquet, Marquet Media, LLC

About the Author

Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs.


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