Interpersonal skills you need to succeed at work
These are the key characteristics that hiring managers and the people making decisions about promotions at companies consistently recognize in their top performers.
If you want to have a great career—no matter the field—interpersonal skills are crucial for getting ahead. That’s because interpersonal skills include the ability to get along well with others, get your point across, empathize and listen to other viewpoints, and other vital soft skills.
Whether you work in retail, finance, technology, health care, or sales, connections with other people will be integral to your job. Sure, having technical skills related to your role are very important as well, but if you don’t have the interpersonal skills to go with them, it’s a much harder hill to climb.
The interpersonal skills everyone needs
So what are the most important interpersonal skills needed for career success? While this is not an exhaustive list, these are the key characteristics that hiring managers and the people making decisions about promotions at companies consistently recognize in their top performers.
1. Communication skills
Being able to speak and write well is important in just about all professions. This is probably obvious if the job involves having to make presentations, speak to customers on the phone, send emails, and/or write up proposals. However, even in other types of jobs like skilled trades, you still have to be able to carry on conversations with co-workers, explain your plans and procedures to customers, and more.
Part of communication skills is also having positive body language. How you present yourself to others can make an impression. That means smiling, having good posture, being attentive, making eye contact, and being aware of social etiquette practices can go a long way.
What this means to you: Make sure your resume, cover letter, email, and text correspondence are all impeccable. During phone, video or in-person screenings, speak clearly and carefully. Try doing some interview practice before you go on your job hunt to refresh your skills. Finally, be mindful of your body language.
Problem solving and conflict resolution
Challenges and conflict are inevitable in any workplace. That’s why many job interviews include questions about how you’ve handled or overcome a challenge in a past job. Employers want to make sure you have this all-important skill set. Can you act diplomatically during a disagreement with a colleague? How do you handle constructive criticism? If others get into a heated discussion, are you able to diffuse the situation? What about if an angry customer calls up—how would you handle that?
What this means to you: Before you speak with recruiters and hiring managers, think about some examples where you faced challenges or conflicts in your work life, and what your problem-solving solution was. This is something that will inevitably come up in conversation, so you want to be prepared.
Emotional intelligence and positivity
This has to do with how well you understand people’s feelings, and your ability to motivate and uplift others. In other words, having empathy and compassion, being able to put yourself in other’s shoes, and sharing a positive energy in the workplace.
The reason this is valuable to employers has to do with building a strong company culture and finding employees whose values align with the company’s. When all employees genuinely respect their team members, and really take the time to listen to their points of view, it makes for a more inclusive and caring culture.
What this means to you: Be ready to share some anecdotes that illustrate times when you’ve been able to understand others’ needs and respond accordingly. Also, be an attentive listener when meeting with prospective employers. Take notes, and ask questions. And be positive when talking about your past employers, and your future career outlook.
Leadership is not just about having managed or supervised others in past jobs. It’s having recognizable qualities that indicate you have what it takes to become a future leader. These qualities include being dependable, finding ways to help others, motivating those around you, and willing to act as a mentor to others. If you can convey such examples when you speak to hiring managers or on your resume, it could illustrate to them that you have leadership potential.
What this means to you: Think through examples in your life when you’ve been a leader. Even if you didn’t have an official leadership role, perhaps you worked with interns at your company. Or maybe you have a volunteer role whereby you have led an initiative or ran an event.
No matter where you work, you’ll have to get along and collaborate with others. Employers want to bring on new hires that are willing to step up and help others, will collaborate and share ideas, and who care about team goals.
What this means to you: Be able to speak about how you’ve worked in teams and the contributions you’ve made toward larger company goals. Did you come up with a way for everyone to work together more efficiently? Were you asked to join a team outside of your department?
Your job history and technical skills will get you noticed, but your interpersonal skills is what will make an employer feel comfortable with bringing you on board. If you’re looking for a new job or hoping to advance with your current employer, make sure those interpersonal skills are on full display. Want to know other ways to become indispensable? Join Monster for free today. As a member, you'll get workplace insights, career advice, and job search tips sent directly to your inbox.