Archive for September 2013

Connie’s Career Corner: Soft skills are the key to keeping the job

September 20, 2013



“Soft skills are the key to keeping the job.”

Tip for the day:   Control the things you can, and do not worry about the things you cannot control.


Dear Connie:  During my recent employment evaluation, my supervisor complimented me on my work abilities, but said I need to improve my soft skills.  What exactly does he mean by “soft skills?”

Dear Soft Skill Seeker: There are two types of skills that employers value most – hard skills and soft skills.  In a nutshell, hard skills are your abilities.  For example, the abilities to type 75 words per minute or to construct a building are both hard skills. Soft skills are not so easy to define.  These are the intangible skills such as the ability to listen to others.  Many employers value strong communication skills (soft skills) more than some hard skills. 

Your hard skills are usually how you get a job and your soft skills are how you usually keep a job.  No matter how talented an employee is, if they do not show up on time or if they create chaos within their working environment, they are usually not going to keep their position.  In a survey of 3,000 Tennessee employers conducted by Dent Davis, 95% of employers say they value someone who is dependable, 76% value someone who follows instructions, 70% value someone who can get along with others, and 70% value those with good ethics.

Fortunately, if you are currently lacking in soft skills, you can work to improve them.  You can become a more dependable employee by simply showing up on time ready to do your job.  Even though you may have personality conflicts with other individuals in your organization, it is still important to listen to them and try to get along.  This may not be easy at first, but by making a conscious effort to understand your co-workers, you are taking the first step to creating a harmonious working environment.  More importantly, you are becoming a more valuable employee! 

The NCAC Career Coaches provide weekly sessions called Career Connection where you can learn more about how to develop your soft skills.  Check the calendar at for a time and location near you.

Connie’s Career Corner is your source for career information.  E-mail questions for future columns to  

Staying Motivated is the Key! http://ow.

September 13, 2013

Staying Motivated is the Key!

Connie’s Career Corner: Don’t overlook the company culture

September 9, 2013



“Don’t overlook the company culture”


Tip for the day:   “What life means to us is determined not so much by what life brings to us as by the attitude we bring to life; not so much by what happens to us as by our reaction to what happens.”  Reverend Lewis L. Dunnington


Q: Dear Connie:  I am thinking about changing companies.  I am interested in working for a particular company but I have friends who do not seem to like working there.  How do I know if the company is a good company or bad company to work for?


A: Dear Looking for a Good Thing: When we accept a position we have expectations regarding what that employer and the position will be like. Two people could have totally different expectations for the same job.  If two people have different expectations, their opinions regarding personal satisfaction will have different results. 


It is important to gather as much information as possible before accepting a job offer from a company.  You will want to find out how the employer manages employee relations, such as, how it rewards employees for a job well done. Also, you should know the financial condition of the company, and most importantly, pay attention to the company culture. 


Some people want to be praised publicly for their accomplishments.   Others value getting a pay raise when they have accomplished their goals.  Being given detailed instructions and clear expectations makes some workers happy. Others appreciate knowing what needs to be accomplished and being given the freedom to work out the details in their own way.


This is why two people doing the same type of job may see the job in a totally different light.  One worker may think he has the best job in the world, but the other may dread every moment while at work.


Every company has its own culture and you will want to know if you fit in with the people you will be working with everyday.  During your interview process, take the opportunity to meet the person who will be supervising you and the people who will be your co-workers. Try to determine if the employees keep their personal life separate from work, socialize outside of work, or support a relaxed or very structured work environment. This is where your observation skills will come in handy.  This is not a question to ask your interviewer.


There is no right or wrong way to feel as long as you think about how you are the happiest and try to find a work environment that best matches the way you do your work best.  The closer the match, the more likely you are to join the group who says they work for a good or great company.


Connie’s Career Corner is your source for career information.  E-mail questions for future columns to