What are soft skills? Well, you can think of them as un-measurable or intangible skills. In other words, they are skills you cannot quantify using direct, specific metrics. Take leadership, for example. It can be demonstrated but can it be “measured”? Not really.
Soft skills, which combine interpersonal abilities, common sense, personality, emotional intelligence, and people skills, are crucial for success as creatives since they impact overall performance and interactions with creative partners and collaborators.
Soft skills can be grouped into several categories, as we’ll see briefly– but first, let’s address the elephant in the room, shall we?
What Are Hard Skills, And How Are Soft Skills Different From Hard Skills?
Hard skills are task-specific skills. They refer to the tangible core skills needed to perform certain job functions. Examples of hard skills include:
- Computer hardware engineering skills
- Microsoft Office skills
- Content Writing skills
- Graphic Design skills
- Accounting skills
- Data analysis skills…
- And the likes.
Hard skills differ from one creative niche to another and are not always transferable. This segues us into the difference(s) between hard and soft skills.
What Is The Difference Between Hard Skills And Soft Skills?
Hard skills can be taught through traditional education, but soft skills are difficult (if not impossible) to teach through traditional education. Hard skills, as mentioned already, are not always transferable between creative niches, but soft skills almost always are.
For example: Remember the funny co-worker at your previous job? Or the college professor who always managed to crack your ribs every lecture? Chances are excellent they will both still be funny wherever they work in the future!
Humor, then, is an example of a soft skill.
5 Soft Skills Creatives Must Possess
As a creative, chances are you would think that employers value the core creative skills needed for your job role more than your soft skills- you would be wrong.
A study by LinkedIn suggests that more than 56% of companies value soft skills more than hard skills. Here are two likely reasons why:
- If you were in the employers’ shoes, who would you pick –between two equally talented designers, for instance? The one who oozes bad vibes and negative energy, or the one who is a delight to communicate with?
- Also, hard skills are easier to learn. All you need to do to acquire a hard skill is enroll in a university, open your browser/app drawer, login to Coursera or Udemy, and stay consistent with the training. That’s it.
Soft skills, however, are tougher to learn but well worth it. Here are five of our top picks for creatives:
As a creative, you must be able to put yourself in the shoes of your end user (and your teammates).
Finding the best solution to other people’s problems can be easier if you have empathy for and a knowledge of their desires and challenges—a key duty for every creative. Finding meaningful and practical answers to the current issue can be done by carefully listening to user feedback.
How Do You Get Better At Showing Empathy?
- Form the habit of pausing to reflect on how you would feel if you were in the other person’s shoes
- Get into the habit of asking others to tell you more about what they mean when they tell you something important.
- Ask for honest feedback often (and act on what you learn from it)
It’s crucial that creatives remain knowledgeable about evolving, cutting-edge products, trends, technology, etc. Darwin (paraphrased) pointed out that it is the creatives who are most adaptable to change that will survive (remain employable).
How Do You Get Better At Adaptability?
Once a week at least, spend time researching and try out new ways of doing your executing a creative task. Always be on the lookout for disruptive technologies in your creative niche and jump on them as soon as you can.
Great leaders always stand out. Leadership (the ability to galvanize a motivated team around a mission for achievement) will be one of the most valuable skills you acquire as a creative.Not only will employers love you, you also set up yourself for success as far as your goals are concerned. For the achievement of anything worthwhile (creative projects included), people have to come together. This makes leadership a must-have skill for creatives.
Leadership skills include interpersonal skills, communication skills, project planning skills, stakeholder management skills, people management, etc.
- Teamwork And Collaboration
Being able to collaborate with other teammates on complex projects is a highly underrated skill. People come from very diverse, ethno-cultural and professional backgrounds. Most often personalities and belief systems on the team differ and because people think differently, it is important to understand that disagreements are bound to happen.
Therefore, collaborating and navigating the personal and professional differences on a team makes you a more valuable creative. Teamwork skills include conflict resolution skills, constructive dialogue, rapport building, respectfulness, tolerance, persuasion, problem-solving skills, etc.
Autodidacticism is a fancy way of saying “the ability to learn on your own.” An autodidact is a self-taught person. Developing the skill of being self-taught is the most transferable skill you can have as a creative. Acquiring all the other skills on this list to some degree depends on your ability to learn independently. As we mentioned earlier, soft skills are not easily learned through traditional education.
Also, as a creative, you will face technical problems specific to your job (the hard skills you practice daily). Your willingness and ability to learn on your own, to dig through available resources (like the internet or your local library) will set you apart from your contemporaries.
So, while learning all the hard skills specific to your creative niche, endeavor to learn or improve your soft skills if you already have them.