Your mobile military life provides opportunities to develop superior soft skills, also known as people skills or interpersonal skills, as you relocate, adapt to new locations, meet new people and work in new positions. Your ability to overcome the challenges of relocating and starting over is a soft skill that employers want and many applicants don't possess. Your soft skills may be the difference between a job offer and a turndown, so keep your soft skills honed.
Employers responding to the National Association of Colleges and Employers "Job Outlook 2016" survey said they want good communicators who make decisions and solve problems while working effectively as part of a team. The skills and qualities employers value include the following:
- Communicate with others inside and outside the organization
- Work in a team structure
- Make decisions and solve problems
- Plan, organize and prioritize work
- Obtain and process information
- Analyze numerical data
- Possess technical knowledge related to the job
- Have competence with computer software programs
- Create and edit written reports
- Sell to or influence others
Show, Don't Tell About Skills
To differentiate yourself from other applicants in an interview situation, use the following techniques.
- Highlight soft skills applicable to the position and the industry.
- Illustrate your soft skills using stories and experiences, which demonstrate your capabilities and expertise. Describe the situation, discuss your actions and present measurable results, if possible. Practice your stories so you'll be comfortable telling them.
- Focus on your four or five top skills, stress them in your interview and, if possible, relate them to the position.
- Demonstrate those soft skills. If you say you're an excellent communicator, make sure to listen, ask appropriate questions and think before you respond.
Understand How Employers Hire
To plan an effective job search, it's important to understand how employers hire. You'll be more comfortable when you are familiar with the recruitment, screening, interviewing and selection process. You can visit the CAREERwise How Employers Hire page for tips and information on the hiring process.
Try mirroring the traits of the interviewer during your job interview to make a subtle connection. If the interviewer is relaxed and casual, mirror that attitude. If they are high energy and use hand gestures, follow their lead, using gestures and speaking more quickly to match their pace. Learn to make a genuine connection by asking questions, listening to responses and adapting your style to improve the communication flow.
It's important to take the time to research an employer you will be interviewing with, to get a better idea of what soft skills they may be looking for. Although soft skills are hard to measure, hiring managers typically seek employees who are team players, work well with others, motivate and engage coworkers and will contribute to the company's bottom line. If you and your competition have similar hard qualifications, your soft skills may be the differentiator.
If you are seeking employment, use the Military Spouse Employment Partnership Job Search to find positions with employers seeking to hire military spouses, often for their unbeatable soft skills. Read additional articles to learn more about different types of soft skills and how you can use them in your job search. Visit the Job Search section of the Employment Readiness lifecycle stage of MySECO. Call Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 to speak with a SECO career coach for information and suggestions for additional resources. You can also use the Live Chat feature on MySECO for additional guidance.