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Soft Skills

How They Can Get You Ahead In a
Competitive World
Cat Coode
Electrical & Computer
Engineering 2001

Friday June 22, 2007
What are Soft Skills?

 From Wikipedia
“Soft Skills refer to the cluster of personality
traits, social graces, facility with language,
personal habits, friendliness, and optimism
that mark people to varying degrees. Soft
Skills compliment hard skills, which are the
technical requirements of a job”
My Career Path

 April 2001 - Graduated UW Engineering with a Major
in Electrical Engineering and a Minor in Computer
 April 2001 – Started work at a Software Gaming
Company in Waterloo
 July 2001 – Caught in company layoffs
 August 2001 - Took a job at Research In Motion as a
C++ Software Developer on the Handheld Device
My Career Path cont.

 August 2003 – Sought out other opportunities in a
leadership role
 March 2004 – Moved to the Enterprise Server team
to help with a new team (Customer Response Team)
with the intention of taking over as Team Lead in a
year or so
 September 2004 – Became Team lead of the CRT,
ran development maintenance software and a team
of 10
My Career Path cont.
 June 2006 – Was promoted to Manager of Development
Support Team.
– manage the relationship between the technical support
organization and the development organization, the teams who do
the support work as well a development team writing tools, I
manage irate customers and lastly I continue to manage the
direction of maintenance releases I had started with several years
– This team has 25 people
 June 2007 – Moved to a director-level role of Senior Manager,
Development Support and SV&V
– Team now consists of 58 full time employees plus co-op students
– Continue with the same role but also now includes the Enterprise
Server Testing Team
– Managing people, customers, schedules and resourcing
Soft Skills Employers Want

Top 25 Soft Skills employers look for from

3. Oral/spoken communication skills
4. Written communication skills
3. Honesty
4. Teamwork/collaboration skills
5. Self-motivation/initiative
6. Work ethic/dependability
7. Critical thinking
8. Risk-taking skills
Soft Skills Employers Want, cont.

9. Flexibility/adaptability
10. Leadership skills
11. Interpersonal skills
12. Working under pressure
13. Questioning skills
14. Creativity
15. Influencing skills
16. Research skills
17. Organization skills
Soft Skills Employers Want, cont.

18. Problem-solving skills
19. Multicultural skills
20. Computer skills
21. Academic/learning skills
22. Detail orientation
23. Quantitative skills
24. Teaching/training skills
25. Time management skills
What Do Interviewers Look For?

 Technical skills
 Experience
 Fit with team
 Preparation for the Interview
 A desire to learn
 Passion
 Motivation
 Good attitude
 Potential to grow
Working Effectively with a Team

 Listen to others objectively
 If you don’t get along with someone, find a
level where you can connect and stick to that
 Don’t take criticism personally
 Help people falling behind; the success of a
project reflects on everyone
Cat’s Top Ten Tips to Succeed

1. Build political capital with everyone
• Take opportunities to do good work for everyone, they will
2. Get yourself out there and known
• Look for opportunities to meet people outside your team
• Represent your team at cross functional meetings or
volunteer on a committee
3. Develop a great work ethic
• Be diligent and passionate about your work
• Don’t be the one who’s always late
Cat’s Top Ten Tips to Succeed, cont.

1. Over deliver
• Take initiative go do more than what’s asked
• Get things done on time and done well
2. Become someone people think of as reliable
• Be honest about what you can complete so you are
always able to deliver it
3. Always be professional
• Dress and act as though you take your job seriously
4. Take Responsibility
• Be accountable for your assignments
• Look for leadership opportunities
Cat’s Top Ten Tips to Succeed, cont.

2. Be organized
• Stay on top on your own schedule and priorities
3. Seek out your own opportunities
• If you are interested in other tasks or jobs, tell someone
or look for those positions
• A good manager will help you develop your career
4. Be yourself
• Not matter how you present yourself to the public, be sure
to stay true to who you are
• Be genuine
The CLM and How to Avoid it

Career Limiting Moves:
 Fighting with others in meetings
 Off-Colour jokes
 Bad mouthing – projects or people
 Unwillingness to listen to others
 Disrespect for authority
 Negative Attitude
How Can You Improve Your Soft Skills?

Look for opportunities to interact with others
 Volunteer
– This will expose you to people with different backgrounds
and experience
 Teaching
– Learn to adapt the way you explain things to people of
different ability levels
 Select different people to work with
– With group projects, find a new group
 Courses
– Toastmaster is one example for speaking skills

Thank You