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Surviving in the Workplace

team meeting with woman in foreground looking at the camera

Wondering what it takes to thrive in the workplace?

You’re the perfect job candidate. Your resume is chock full of keywords and metrics showing you know what you’re doing. Perhaps you’ve increased ROI by 40%, averaged seventy words-per-minute, or mastered a certain software program.

These are all hard skills, abilities and experiences you may frequently see as job requirements. Measurable skills you can test for. You’re probably thinking, “if hard skills exist, soft skills must exist too, right?”

You’re 100% correct. Soft skills (also known as Essential Skills) are about working well with others in a workplace environment. Being able to deal with difficult co-workers or knowing how to cooperate with multiple team members to reach a deadline—all are considered soft skills.

Soft skills are important because you must have them to succeed. Hard skills can get you in the door, but they’re just a baseline—soft skills are what allow you to move up the ladder by collaborating with others.

These include:

Communication Skills

Having good Communication Skills is the capability to not only express yourself in multiple ways, but also to listen and persuade others.  A big part of communication skills is listening first and being an active listener.  Also important is your presentation style.  For the first time ever, we have 5 different generations in the workforce.  Each generation communicates differently so learning how to listen and present your case is important to hiring managers and they are looking for this the minute you start interviewing. 

Being a Team Player

Being a Team Player is the capacity to work well with others through an understanding of the big picture.  You must understand the objective of the team and the part you play in achieving its goal.  Learn to appreciate different viewpoints and be open to altering your point of view. As a strong team player, who knows you may make the move from team player to team leader in no time.   Interviewers want to hear about specific examples of successful teamwork. 

Having a Strong Work Ethic

A Strong Work Ethic is the ability to work hard and meet deadlines without sacrificing quality.  A “work ethic” is loosely defined as a set of values based on self-discipline and dedication to your work.  It involves perseverance, focus, meeting deadlines and doing the job right.  Again, be prepared to provide specific examples in your work or school history that shows you have perseverance and focus with the ability to meet a deadline with quality work. 

Being Flexible

Flexibility is being able and willing to change course on the fly as the situation calls for.  Being flexible makes you a more valuable employee.  It’s not necessary to know exactly how to do the new task like an expert but your willingness to accept new responsibility will elevate your status in the eyes of your leaders.  Tell your interviewer about a time when you exhibited flexibility in your past.  

Having a Positive Attitude

To have a Positive Attitude, keep your conversation and attitude optimistic and light to inspire and help others.  You will be happier and make better decisions with a positive attitude.  When you choose to have a positive attitude, good things will happen. 


Punctuality means not just being on time but being ready for work on time every time.  You will gain respect when you show your boss that you are ready to start on time. This is the soft skill that you don’t have to tell your recruiter about, they will see it immediately.  Practice punctuality now so that it is second nature when you’re ready for that big interview or promotion. 

Learn more about the top Soft Skills (Essential Skills) employers look for as provided by Express Employment Professionals.

Jay Mulhern – Owner
Express Jobs