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Soft Skills Success

Successfully using soft skills in the workplace

The article, titled “Charles Schwab CEO Reveals How He Tests Job Candidates by Taking Them to Breakfast, Having Restaurant Mess Up Their Order”, describes the organization’s screening process, where they observe the candidate’s response to being inconvenienced. Their screening process is insightful about what many companies value. While you will not likely undergo this type of screening, the way you interact with future employers during the application process will reveal to them if you have the soft skills for the job.

During the screening/pre-hire process, it’s advised to:

Be courteous:

  • Promptly return voicemail messages and emails.
  • Extend a handshake, make and maintain eye contact, avoid using mobile phones.
  • Avoid the appearance of “hassling” by sending multiple emails and phone calls regarding the same topic.

Be prepared:

  • Research the company and position in advance.
  • Arrive to the interview 15 minutes early, professionally dressed, and with your résumé and list of questions in hand.

Be gracious:

  • Thank them for the effort put forth on your behalf and the opportunity to interview, with a verbal, emailed, and/or handwritten thank-you note. 

Be considerate:

  • Choose fully-worded emails over short (often perceived as curt) emails.
  • Provide specific information in your emails which will make it easier for the recipient to assist you.
  • Be intentional about conveying a pleasant tone.


Subject line: John Doe / Truck Driver position #2020

Good afternoon Ms. Doe,

It was so good to receive your email on January 9, 2020 regarding the open truck driver position (position #2020)! As I didn’t receive an update from you on Monday, January 11, 2020, as previously discussed, I thought I would contact you to express my continued interest and availability in this position. I hope to speak with you soon!


John Doe

– versus –

Subject line: Job question

Hi Jane,

What’s the status with my application? Last week you said that applications were being processed and that you would let me know something Monday, but you never contacted me.

-  Johnny

The first email conveys a pleasant tone, provides the date the applicant last communicated with the recruiter (1/09/2020), the way they communicated (email), the person who initiated the contact (the recruiter), specifics regarding the prior conversation, and the position title and number. Providing this information without being asked, shows consideration for the recruiter’s time and conveys professionalism and courtesy.

Your employment depends in large part, to the recruiter presenting you as a good candidate. The recruiter will look for congruence between the skills you acknowledge and what is possessed. The truck driver who states in their résumé that he “displays professionalism and courtesy at all times”, yet displays discourtesy and unprofessionalism through the pre-screening process, will not likely be viewed as a good candidate.

Adopting Soft Skills

There are many tools which can be used to learn about the essential work attitudes, behaviors, and habits necessary for success in the workplace. Those wanting to acquire new skills can start by checking out thearticles and videos on the Virtual Career System®, which have been designed to inform (articles) and model (videos) the soft skills that employers desire most. You can check out more articles and videos on our Learning Center.

Using Soft Skills Consistently

Lastly, in the same way that you would continue to hone, improve, and use your hard skills, you want to hone, improve, and consistently use the soft skills that helped get you the position.

A good way to do that is by periodically cycling through the assessment, reflection, exhibition, and adoption of skills.

Regardless of the position you’re applying for or hope to advance to - you will have a customer, whether it’s one paying for a product, a peer, or a boss.  While no one will perfectly meet the mark in all of these areas, consistency will pay off and will greatly increase your employability and career progression!

Written by: Kim Lott, Career Consultant, TANF

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