Alabama Extension offers ways for job candidates to improve overall skills


By Wendi A. Williams
Special to the
Opelika Observer

With unemployment at a near 50-year low, there are more job openings than there are job seekers in today’s labor market. Now is the time to enhance your employable skills, so you can stand out from the crowded pack of candidates. While all skills are important, employers are looking more and more at a person’s soft skills.
Dorothy Brandon, an Alabama Extension workforce preparation specialist, said these skills are key for a successful work environment.
“Employability skills help an individual to be successful in the workplace,” Brandon said. “These skills are more than just teachable skills, they include soft skills.”
Soft Skills
Soft skills feature personal qualities that determine how a person behaves on a job. Today, many employers consider these skills to be more important for job success than hard skills. People need these skills to build and to maintain relationships as effective team players, to empathize and appreciate others and to give and receive help from others.
“While hard skills are important, just remember that soft skills help you to be a well-rounded employee,” Brandon said
Having effective soft skills ensures that individuals are working with and relating to their co-workers and customers in an ethical and professional manner. There are six soft skills that employers look for today. These include a positive attitude, communication, problem solving, work ethics, teamwork and time management.
Positive Attitude
Individuals who look for the good in people and situations are easy to be around. A good attitude in the workplace enhances the possibility of not only obtaining a job, but getting a promotion.
Employers look for individuals who can clearly express their thoughts and feelings when interacting with others. They also need individuals who can effectively write and actively listen to what others are saying.
Problem Solving
The ability to solve problems and to think critically is crucial in a work environment. As problem solvers, individuals must be able to use their creativity to come up with solutions.
“Because this skill is so important, many employers will give individuals a problem to solve during an interview,” Brandon said.
Work Ethics
Individuals with a strong work ethic are committed to their work. They often have the respect of their co-workers and supervisors for their honesty and integrity.
This soft skill involves the ability to work with other people to achieve a common goal. Teamwork requires a willingness to cooperate with people regardless of differences. As team players, individuals are comfortable with receiving and giving constructive feedback to team members. They understand the importance of collaboration.
Time Management
Individuals with good time management skills organize and plan their tasks daily so as to increase productivity. Controlling or managing time helps individuals become more effective at meeting deadlines. It also assists individuals in being more punctual for work, meetings and other occasions.
For more information on improving your soft skills or more useful workforce development information, visit the Urban Extension page of the Alabama Extension website.


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