Each company looks for a different mix of skills and experience depending on the business it's in. Yet it's no longer enough to be a functional expert. To complement these unique core competencies, there are certain "soft skills" every company looks for in a potential hire.
"Soft skills" refer to a cluster of personal qualities, habits, attitudes and social graces that make someone a good employee and compatible to work with. Companies value soft skills because research suggests and experience shows that they can be just as important an indicator of job performance as hard skills.
 "Top 10 Soft Skills for Job Hunters - Careers Articles." Jobs, Careers, and Job Listings - AOL Jobs. < http://jobs.aol.com/articles/2009/01/26/top-10-soft-skills-for-job-hunters/ >.
Some of the most common soft skills employers are looking for and will be assessing you on include:
Are you motivated and dedicated to getting the job done, no matter what? Will you be conscientious and do your best work?
Developing a good work ethic begins during the educational process. As you go to school for an education to further your career, you can build a good work ethic through your study habits. If you are working while you attend school, this is another way to develop a good work ethic and learn multi-tasking before you enter your career of choice. Distance learning opportunities give you the chance to develop your own work ethic because they are self-motivated and flexible.
But after you finish your educational career, what kind of work ethic will be expected of you in the workplace? Research has shown that the many characteristics of work ethic can be summarized using three terms:
Secondly, how can you learn to take initiative without being overbearing or ineffective? Simply put, to take initiative is to do what needs to be done without having to be told. Yet, on the job, there is more to it. Here are a few tips for starters, or learn more here.
 "Developing Effective Interpersonal Skills in the Office - Yahoo! Voices - voices.yahoo.com." Yahoo! Voices - voices.yahoo.com. < http://voices.yahoo.com/developing-effective-interpersonal-skills-office... >.
 " Learn To Take Initiative - It Will Lead You To A Better Career ." Career Tools, Career Advice and Resources for your job change needs . < http://www.career-tools-hq.com/take-initiative.html >.
 Petty, Gregory C.. "Occupational Work Ethic Inventory." University of Georgia College of Education. < www.coe.uga.edu/cgi-bin/cgiwrap/~rhill/new_owei/owei.pl >.
 "How Toxic Behavior Leads to Sinful Behavior at Work - Careers Articles." Jobs, Careers, and Job Listings - AOL Jobs. < http://jobs.aol.com/articles/2009/04/23/how-toxic-behavior-leads-to-sinf... >.
 "Grant Rant #81 - 10X Your Work Ethic - YouTube ." YouTube - Broadcast Yourself. < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9EIvepTrIw&feature=related >.
Are you optimistic and upbeat? Will you generate good energy and good will?
A positive attitude in the workplace can help you whether you own your own business, work as an employee, or manage others within a business environment. You’ll enjoy your work more and achieve your workplace or business related goals more easily and faster.
Cynicism and sarcasm are widely prevalent in today’s workplace, and both can bring you and your coworkers down quickly. While you may not be able to control the mood of the entire workplace, you are always in control of your own attitude each day. Use these ten tips for developing a positive attitude in the workplace:
 "A Positive Attitude In The Workplace Can Do These 10Things." Positive Attitude Tips. < http://www.positive-attitude-tips.com/positive-attitude-in-the-workplace... >.
 "10 Sure-Fire Tips For Creating a Positive Attitude inthe Workplace." Positive Attitude Tips. < http://www.positive-attitude-tips.com/positive-attitude-workplace-tips.html >.
Are you both verbally articulate and a good listener? Can you make your case and express your needs in a way that builds bridges with colleagues, customers and vendors?
It is well-known that before you come to work, you have to leave your informal self back home. In the office, you're an employee, someone who's supposed to go about his work in a professional manner. There is a way to talk to your superiors, to your peers and your subordinates. This mode of communication is known as workplace communication and is typically formal and to the point. Important skills include:
Effective business communication techniques are important for the simple fact that they establish trust and rapport amongst employees and team members.
Writing Skills are also crucial to your future success. Modern methods allow the least use of the written mode of communication (less than before). Today, we use emails, service forms, report sheets and the occasional sticky note. Your skills should extend to this area as well. Some tips to that effect:
It is important to be formal and cordial in the workplace for several reasons:
Once you have developed basic communication skills, know that you must work on your effectiveness for a lifetime. Learn a bit more about improving workplace communication skills by reading this article on techniques important for the modern workplace.
Similarly, cross-cultural communication can often be a challenge. It's no secret that today's workplace is rapidly becoming vast, as the business environment expands to include various geographic locations and span numerous cultures. What can be difficult, however, is understanding how to communicate effectively with individuals who speak another language or who rely on different means to reach a common goal.
There are basic cultural differences which can cause for communication issues across multicultural teams whether they are all located in the one spot or working from different from old locations. Here are some tips for getting to grips with multicultural teams:
 "Workplace Communication Skills." Buzzle. < www.buzzle.com/articles/workplace-communication-skills.html >.
 "What Communication Techniques are Important in Modern Business?." Product-ivity | Innovation Strategy Applied To Product Creativity. < http://product-ivity.com/what-communication-techniques-are-important/ >.
 "How Women Can Talk to Men at Work So They'll Listen - Careers Articles." Jobs, Careers, and Job Listings - AOL Jobs. < http://jobs.aol.com/articles/2010/10/30/how-women-can-talk-to-men-at-wor... >.
 "Effective Cross Culture Communication - Communication Skills Training from MindTools.com." Mind Tools - Management Training, Leadership Training and Career Training. < http://www.mindtools.com/CommSkll/Cross-Cultural-communication.htm >.
 "Building Better Communications in the Workplace." Product-ivity | Innovation Strategy Applied To Product Creativity. < http://product-ivity.com/communication-in-the-workplace/ >.
 " Gestures and Body Language 2 - YouTube ." YouTube - Broadcast Yourself. . < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=czFBARHgp68&feature=relmfu >.
Do you know how to prioritize tasks and work on a number of different projects at once? Will you use your time on the job wisely?
Time management is a set of principles, practices, skills, tools, and systems working together to help you get more value out of your time with the aim of improving the quality of your life.
The important point is that time management is not necessarily about getting lots of stuff done, because much more important than that is making sure that you are working on the right things, the things that truly need to be done. Smart time managers know that there is much more to do than anyone could possibly accomplish. So instead of trying to do it all, smart time managers are very picky about how they spend their time.
All time management skills are learnable. More than likely you will see much improvement from simply becoming aware of the essence and causes of common personal time management problems. Visit these time management lesson links to see which techniques are most relevant for your situation:
Especially in today’s technologically based world, using the latest technology can put you ahead of your competition quickly. Visit this article to learn about 15 time management tools and apps that are currently available and highly recommended.
Time management is also crucial in reducing stress. Some important tips in connecting time management with stress reduction include:
 lifehackery. "10 Ways to Teach Yourself to Be Organized | Life Hackery." LifeHackery.com - Useful, Unusual and (Sometimes) Ironic Tips and Tricks to Hack Your Life into Shape. < http://lifehackery.com/2008/02/21/10-ways-to-teach-yourself-to-be-organi... >.
 "How to eliminate procrastination and laziness." Personal time management and goal setting guide. < http://www.time-management-guide.com/procrastination.html >.
 "Decision making skills and techniques guide." Personal time management and goal setting guide. < http://www.time-management-guide.com/decision-making-skills.html >.
 "Prioritizing techniques save your time and energy." Personal time management and goal setting guide. < http://www.time-management-guide.com/prioritizing.html >.
 "What is planning and why you need to plan." Personal time management and goal setting guide. < http://www.time-management-guide.com/planning.html >.
 "Effective delegation skill and techniques." Personal time management and goal setting guide. < http://www.time-management-guide.com/delegation-skill.html >.
 "Build coping skills for overcoming life's challenges." Personal time management and goal setting guide. < http://www.time-management-guide.com/coping-skills.html >.
 "Time tracking with a time log shows the reality of wasted time." Personal time management and goal setting guide. < http://www.time-management-guide.com/time-log.html >.
 "Technology Tips for time management from TimeManagement4U.com and Arthur A. Hawkins II.." Time Management Plans and Blueprints Designed Exclusively for You. < http://www.timemanagement4u.com/technology.chtml >.
 Dumb Little Man. "15 Awesome Time Management Tools and Apps - by Dumb Little Man." Dumb Little Man - Tips for Life. < http://www.dumblittleman.com/2009/04/15-awesome-time-management-tools-an... >.
 Career Builder. "Time Management Crucial to Reducing Stress." Jobs & Job Search Advice, Employment & Careers | Careerbuilder.com. < http://www.careerbuilder.com/Article/CB-1809-Workplace-Issues-Time-Manag... >.
Are you resourceful and able to creatively solve problems that will inevitably arise? Will you take ownership of problems or leave them for someone else?
People tend to do three things when faced with a problem: they get afraid or uncomfortable and wish it would go away; they feel that they have to come up with an answer and it has to be the right answer; and they look for someone to blame. Being faced with a problem becomes a problem. And that's a problem because, in fact, there are always going to be problems!
There are two important things to remember about problems and conflicts: they happen all the time and they are opportunities to improve the system and the relationships. They are actually providing us with information that we can use to fix what needs fixing and do a better job.
Here are seven-steps for an effective problem-solving process.
Job Searching. One of the most challenging problems you may encounter in your career is getting a job to begin with. While we have long been encouraged by the virtue of persistence, it is easy to become discouraged quickly when the job market is moving at a snail’s pace.
Caroline Ceniza-Levine, co-founder of SixFigureStart, says persistence does pay off, so long as we remember one thing: There is a difference between smart persistence and blind persistence.
"Persistence to a goal pays off as long as you can be flexible on how you get there," she says. "If your job search isn't yielding offers, then whatever you are doing is not working. You may have the right role and companies in mind, but your marketing, your interview technique, your networking approach or something else about how you are presenting yourself to these prospects is off. Or the prospects themselves may be wrong for you."
You may be familiar with Adam Savage, co-host of the show MythBusters. Watch this video about his perspective on problem solving and how he goes about doing it (the heart of the conversation starts at 7:30 minutes in).
 " MSN Careers - Does Persistence Really Pay? - Career Advice Article." Jobs & Careers Search Engine – MSN Careers. < http://msn.careerbuilder.com/Article/MSN-2418-Job-Search-Does-Persistenc... >.
Will you work well in groups and teams? Will you be cooperative and take a leadership role when appropriate?
If you were choosing team members for a business team in your organization, who would the best team players be? Assuming that people have the right technical skills for the work to be done, what other factors would you use to select your team members?
Teams need strong team players to perform well. But what defines such people? Here is a short list of qualities of an effective team player:
Conversely, the pendulum can swing in the opposite direction of being too much of a team player. Do you have trouble saying “No” or are you known as a “Yes Man”? Consider this article, which discusses the benefits of yes versus no and how to better manage yourself using both.
 Brounstein, Marty. "Ten Qualities of an Effective Team Player - For Dummies ." How-To Help and Videos - For Dummies . < http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/ten-qualities-of-an-effective-team... >.
 "The Magic Word at Work - Careers Articles." Jobs, Careers, and Job Listings - AOL Jobs. < http://jobs.aol.com/articles/2010/11/03/magic-word-at-work/ >.
Do you truly believe you can do the job? Will you project a sense of calm and inspire confidence in others? Will you have the courage to ask questions that need to be asked and to freely contribute your ideas?
Confidence is a vital aspect of our day-to-day lives and is especially important in the workplace. Unfortunately, not everyone was born with "built-in" self confidence. In fact, many of us had to work hard to achieve some semblance of confidence. People with low confidence and self-esteem often feel unappreciated and find it hard to succeed. The good thing is that it can be achieved with time and effort.
Confidence is a mixture of courage, strength and the ability to pick yourself up when something fails. Five ways in which you can improve your self confidence are:
A lack of self confidence is especially limiting for women. Dr. Lois Frankel, author of the best-selling business book for women, Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office, argues that women all too often tend to play it safe in the workplace. In her book, she itemizes the top five mistakes women make:
1. Waiting to be given what you want
Ever heard the saying, The squeaky wheel gets the grease? If you don't ask, you won't risk hearing no, but you also won't get what you want.
2. Avoiding office politics
Like it or not, politics is how things get done -- in the workplace, in government, and in professional organizations.
3. Sharing too much personal information
Sharing personal information isn't in and of itself a mistake -- it's sharing too much of it that can come back to bite you.
4. Decorating your office like your living room
The decor of your office should be consistent with the kind of firm in which you work.
Apologizing for unintentional, low-profile, non-egregious errors erodes our self-confidence -- and, in turn, the confidence others have in us.
 "Building Self-confidence In the Workplace." JobsDB.com. < http://my.jobsdb.com/MY/EN/V6HTML/JobSeeker/126_career.html >.
 Johnson Mandell , Lisa . "Why Nice Girls Still Don't Get the Corner Office." AOL Jobs. < http://jobs.aol.com/articles/2010/06/24/nice-girls-still-dont-get-the-co... >.
 " Confidence in 60 Seconds - YouTube ." YouTube - Broadcast Yourself. < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IES3iWfiaUA&feature=fvwrel >.
Will you be able to handle criticism? Are you coachable and open to learning and growing as a person and as a professional?
Handling criticism – and you will receive a lot in the early years of your career – can be difficult at best, crippling at worst. Learning how to deal with it effectively and use it productively is essential for maintaining both professionalism and momentum in your career.
Accepting criticism gracefully can be done in four steps:
Step 1: Listen
Step 2: Ask questions
Step 3: Reflect on conversation
Step 4: Create goals
Step 5: Welcome failure
Step 6: Focus on strengths
Step 7: Laugh
 "How to Handle Criticism at Work." WorkAwesome | Be More Productive at Work. < http://workawesome.com/your-job/how-to-handle-criticism-at-work/ >.
Are you able to adapt to new situations and challenges? Will you embrace change and be open to new ideas?
The only constant you can be sure of at work is change. Companies don't change, people do. When you develop the skills to change, you can not only move faster than ever before, but your ability to change can also turn into a competitive advantage. Adaptability skills are the positive traits you bring to the job, such as flexibility, reliability or patience.
Sandra Naiman, author of "The High Achiever's Secret Codebook," reveals unwritten rules for being successful at work. According to her, embracing and implementing change are keys to being a valuable and valued employee. To respond positively to change, despite being fearful of it or resistant to it, Naiman suggests the following strategies:
In fact, one of the best-selling business books of all time, Who Moved by Cheese by Spencer Johnson, is all about change. It is a quick read – if you haven’t read it, you absolutely must to understand change in the work environment. View a preview of the story in this short video.
 Bendell, Jakki. "How to Identify Transferable & Adaptable Skills | eHow.com." eHow | How to Videos, Articles & More - Discover the expert in you. | eHow.com. < http://www.ehow.com/how_8178635_identify-transferable-adaptable-skills.h... >.
Can you handle the stress that accompanies deadlines and crises? Will you be able to do your best work and come through in a pinch?
We’ve all heard the term “going postal,” but in reality it is no joking matter. Violence in the workplace is real and increasing, caused by an inability to effectively manage stress, pressure, deadlines and crises at work.
Sure, we've all felt like tossing the computer out the window or smashing the copy machine or slapping the annoying co-worker. But how many people do you know who've actually gone there? Relieve some stress by watching a few classic office ragers taking their aggression out on their workplaces and coworkers in these videos.
Truly, the best way to work well under pressure is using many of the tips already shared on this web site: time management, effective communication, problem solving skills, staying positive, etc. The top five steps to handling pressure without ever letting them see you sweat include:
 "Desk Rage: Completely Losing It at Work - Careers Articles." Jobs, Careers, and Job Listings - AOL Jobs. < http://jobs.aol.com/articles/2010/11/12/desk-rage-completely-losing-it-a... >.
 "Extreme Stress Caught on Video." AOL Jobs. < http://jobs.aol.com/articles/2009/06/12/extreme-office-stress-caught-on-... >.
 "How to Work Well Under Pressure - Monsterguide.net." Monsterguide.net. < http://monsterguide.net/how-to-work-well-under-pressure >.
Amer, Beverly. Soft skills at work: technology for career success. Boston, MA: Course Technology, 2009. Print. ISBN 978-1603340144.
Azzarello, Patty. Rise: how to be really successful at work and like your life. United States: Newton Park Pub., 2011. Print. ISBN 978-0615415772.
Bolton, Robert. People skills: how to assert yourself, listen to others, and resolve conflicts. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1986. Print. ISBN 978-0671622480.
Butterfield, Jeff. Problem solving and decision making: soft skills for a digital workplace. Boston, Mass.: Course Technology, Cengage Learning, 2010. Print. ISBN 978-1439041147.
Johnson, Spencer. Who moved my cheese?: an a-mazing way to deal with change in your work and in your life. New York: Putnam, 1998. Print. ISBN 978-0399144462.
Klaus, Peggy, Jane M. Rohman, and Molly Hamaker. The hard truth about soft skills: workplace lessons smart people wish they'd learned sooner. New York, NY: Collins, 2007. Print. ISBN 978-0061284144.
McKay, Matthew, Martha Davis, and Patrick Fanning. Messages: the communication skills book. 3rd ed. Oakland, Calif.: New Harbinger Publications, 2009. Print. ISBN 978-1572245921.