Landing a great job isn't just about having the technical abilities a role requires. If it did, there'd be little reason for employers to interview job candidates.
Research shows that so-called "soft skills" — your ability to work well with others, communicate clearly and solve problems — matter much more than many may think.
A study published by the American Psychological Association suggests that bosses prefer candidates who they find likable and friendly over those who are self-promotional, though they note that a combination of the two is probably best. Research published in the Journal of Education for Business shows that managers pay special attention to communication skills and analytical skills when reviewing an employee.
So how can you improve your soft skills? And which ones matter the most to employers today?
Jobs platform Monster aggregated 943,008 market-wide job postings from a variety of sources and found that certain skills appeared thousands of times in jobs listings across several industries.
Here are five soft skills to consider investing more time developing:
5. Problem solving
Employers want professionals who know how and when to solve issues on their own, and when to ask for help. According to Vicki Salemi, career expert at Monster, there's a simple strategy you can practice to improve in this area.
"Take a step back," she suggests, "evaluate the situation and devise solutions that make the most sense."
If you're preparing for a job interview, jot down a time you helped solved a problem at work. Then you'll be better prepared to discuss it.
"You can gain problem-solving skills by thinking clearly, methodically and pausing," Salemi says, "then researching viable solutions and, if need be, running it by your current boss."
4. Attention to detail
So if you have a typo on your resume, it may mean that you've just disqualified yourself.
"Instead of rushing it," Salemi says, "take time to review every word, punctuation mark, run spell-check, the works. Breathe. Pause."
While you may have tight deadlines, give yourself time to make sure your work is the best it can be. If you're having trouble with this, have a conversation with your boss about what is expected of you. Or give yourself more breathing room by arriving to work earlier.
"Get into the habit of slowing down to notice more details in the long run," she adds.