Not Developing Soft Skills Can Be a Fatal Flaw When Trying to Advance Your Career

Career Success is More Than Technical Training, You Need Competitive Skills to Get Ahead

Part One of a Four-Part Series

Jen Seregos | Career Success Coach

Do you feel like you’ve done everything right in terms of preparing for your career but can’t seem to land your dream job or you keep getting passed up for promotions? Are you scratching your head saying to yourself, “I have studied and worked hard, and I am an expert in doing my job, but I still don’t have the dream job and I’m not moving up the ladder. What the heck is going on?”

It can be very stressful to have gone through the effort to be trained for a job and know that you have what it takes to knock it out of the park in your chosen field of career and not get the pay you want, the job you want, or the promotions you want. You may be wondering, “What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I get ahead when I have all the technical skills that I need to do this job and do it well? Why are people with fewer certifications or qualifications getting jobs or promotions while I remain stagnant?”

If you have the technical skills to do your job like a pro, but you’re still not at the level you know you should or want to be, the biggest mistake you’re probably making is not putting enough of your focus on competitive skills.


Let’s address first what we mean by competitive skills. Competitive skills, often called soft skills, are more about your personality and approach to doing your job rather than your technical ability to do your job. Think in terms of how well you communicate, how you handle conflict, and your ability to collaborate well with a team. These skills are becoming more and more significant to employers. According to Deloitte’s 2016 Global Human Capital Trends report, employers now consider these skills important to fostering employee retention, improving leadership, and building a meaningful culture. In fact, 92 percent of Deloitte’s respondents rated employees having competitive skills as a critical priority.

What does this mean for you? It means that your focus needs to be on your competitive skill development just as much as your technical skills if you want to take your career to the next level. At Meritize Career Success Services, we don’t view competitive skills as “soft skills” at all, but rather as critically important, extended hard skills that are just as important as technical skills. In fact, if you want to grow your role in your company and increase your income, you will need these competitive skills even more because the more responsibility you have the more you’ll need to shift from doing technical tasks to solve problems, work well with others, communicate clearly, lead a team and be an expert negotiator.

And this is actually great news! Because, just as you can go to school to learn how to weld or become a software engineer or a nurse, you can also learn how to make yourself a more desirable employee and eventual leader by cultivating these skills that give you a more competitive edge.

At Meritize, we put a large emphasis on preparing our clients for their careers by training them in this very critical area. We know their value and make it a top priority to teach and cultivate these skills, discussing things like how to have difficult conversations when in conflict with a coworker, how to ask your boss for a raise or how to work well in a team and be an effective leader.

Now that you know the need for competitive skills, let’s talk about the top three competitive skills you want to focus on developing in order to crush your next interview or conversation for a promotion, whether you are a lineman or a sales professional.

Become an Expert Communicator

Let’s face it, communication is a key ingredient for success in most areas of our lives. Whether it’s communicating our feelings correctly in our personal relationships or our ability to portray our thoughts and ideas at work. The ability to communicate effectively will help you when interviewing for jobs as well as help you perform well at your job. Focus on clearly and confidently expressing your ideas to your peers and managers as well as learning how best to speak professionally to colleagues and customers.

Master the Art of Problem Solving

Employers expect problems to arise, and so should you. As a result, they expect their employees to be able to handle problems and be up for a challenge. Managers especially do not want to be constantly bombarded with helping their employees solve problems. They want to feel confident that their employees have a handle on day-to-day challenges and can put out fires without panicking.

Take Control of Your Time Management

Employers also look for employees to complete tasks in a reasonable period of time. Constantly failing to meet deadlines is a huge red flag. Make sure you are organized, structured and fully capable of allocating the time needed to complete your tasks at work. Focus on prioritizing tasks and setting blocks of time to complete them.

If you know you’ve got the skills to crush your job but you’re either not getting hired or you’re struggling to get promoted, focus on learning some of these soft skills to get a more competitive edge. Remember to focus on clear and confident communication, solving problems and time management.


In the rest of this blog series, we will break down each of these crucial competitive skills. We’ll explore in detail how to become an expert communicator, a master of problem-solving and how to get a grip on your time management. Stay tuned!