In development, soft skills can just as easily come into play during challenges in the field as when navigating office politics.
“Technical skills are very important, but if you’re missing soft skills, you’re missing a critical ingredient for success,” said Shana Montesol Johnson, a career and leadership coach who works with development professionals. “Some soft skills have to deal with managing yourself — self-awareness, optimism, assertiveness, resilience and independence.”
The term “soft skills,” often associated with a person’s emotional intelligence, refers to the interpersonal abilities that enhance an individual’s interactions with others, career prospects and performance on the job. And human resource leaders, recruiters and career experts emphasize the importance of these proficiencies for global development professionals.
Kelly Tobin, recruitment manager for Engility, said her team uses a rigorous interview process to make sure candidates have strong soft skills. Although somebody might be able to show a positive attitude during the first interview and perhaps maintain it throughout that first meeting, this might not be the case during a second interview.