At a minimum, employees need role-specific knowledge, experience and skills to perform their job duties as expected. However, those who usually stand out as high performers often embody additional qualities, ones that aren’t easily taught. A few months ago I was asked by an inquisitive mind, “What is one beneficial skill you’ve picked up on but weren’t necessarily taught?” I was pleasantly surprised by the question as it varies from the standard questions asked by prospective pros in the interview room.
Generally speaking, skills we can all benefit from that can’t always be taught are known as “soft skills” or “interpersonal skills.” These skills aren’t necessarily tied to one specific job and instead are general characteristics that help employees thrive in the workplace, no matter their role, industry and level of experience.
The following soft skills are ones we value in all employees and are actively looking for as we interview job candidates. They can be nurtured but aren’t easily taught, so those who showcase these skills without prompts tend to flourish quickly in their roles.
This style of leadership is highly valued at our agency. No matter your level, it’s expected that we all operate as servant leaders. In this leadership style, one focuses more on others than position or self, leads as a steward, and treats others as partners and peers. Key attributes include being an active listener, offering empathy, self awareness, strong foresight, sense of community, commitment and more.
Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
This skill is valuable in all areas of life, not just professional, but as we work in a very strategic industry, it’s crucial that we have a proven track record for critical thinking and the ability to effectively solve problems. Our teams are constantly navigating client requests from all angles, supporting crisis communications, and more – all of which benefits from strong critical thinking and problem solving skills.
In almost any situation, you benefit from knowing how to be resourceful. For us, it’s understanding how to tap into existing knowledge and previous agency work to help catapult you in the right direction. Starting from scratch has it’s benefits, but it’s also not the most productive, effective or efficient way to function.
Not to be confused with an ego, personal confidence can speak volumes. Exuding this trait shows you value your knowledge and skillset and are comfortable and eager to apply it. Being confident doesn’t mean you always know the answer or are always right; it simply shows that even if you don’t know the answer, you are confident you can figure it out. When you’re thrown a tough question, you can confidently navigate next steps in the conversation. So speak up and show those around you that you got this.
It’s as simple as this: You have to be ready to pivot at all times, in any job, with little disruption to the tasks at hand. How well do you handle curveballs? If the answer is “not well,” tap into that and find ways to support growth in this area.
Teamwork and Work Ethic
We’ve all heard the phrase, “There is no ‘I’ in team.” As cliché as it is, it’s also very true. Our agency is very team-oriented, and we expect our employees to embody a team-player mentality. Success does not happen in a vacuum; it requires a lot of collaboration between team members to get the job done. This is also a primary trait of servant leadership. With strong teamwork also comes strong work ethic. Work ethic cannot be taught but it’s essential, both individually and in a team setting.
For anyone who’s worked in an agency, it’s no secret that it can be a very fast-paced and high-pressure job. (It’s also rewarding, exciting and fun). We often inquire how someone manages stress or maintains a healthy relationship with their job. It’s telling how well they might do when stakes are high and time is tight.
Communication is a pillar in every aspect of life. As public relations professionals, there is no exception. Our jobs require a lot of relationship building to garner results and support our clients well. From client-agency relationships to media relationships and more, it really is critical that team members at all levels can carry themselves in conversation, hold space at a conference table, and speak up with confidence, authority and a relatable personality. This is also key to strong networking, which is valuable in any profession.
Interested in joining a team to tell clients’ stories and collaborate with your peers? Dittoe PR is hiring an entry-level account coordinator! Learn more.