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The Trends Affecting Junior Level Lawyers – Going Soft?

Apr 2014

When it comes to identifying the skills recruiting firms/organisations are looking for, technical ability should be top priority, but not the only priority. Today, skills sets fall into two generally accepted categories: ‘harder skills’ – covering technical expertise – naturally expected at all levels; and ‘softer skills’ – a broad and overlapping mix of management skills.

WHAT ARE ‘SOFTER SKILLS’?

Research suggests a number of broad categories for soft skills, which include:

  • leading or supporting the group as appropriate and your ability to identify which is appropriate
  • effective communication and relationship building
  • adopting a proactive or reactive approach
  • intuition and rationale
  • supervision and feedback – being able to do both and take both
  • empathy
  • stress management
  • time management & organisation
  • willingness to tackle and learn new tasks
  • dealing with conflict
  • enthusiasm & energy
  • determination
  • confidence
  • chemistry

WHAT DO THEY SAY ABOUT YOU?

They provide the interviewing firm with an essential insight into your personality and how you feel about yourself, your chosen career, what you would be like to work with and what you can contribute to the firm.

At interview, interviewers will search for indicators of your softer skills in your responses rather than ask direct questions.

SO HOW DO YOU DEMONSTRATE SOFT SKILLS?

Because these are effectively intangible skills, it can sometimes be difficult to articulate the soft skills you have developed.

Written communication:

Keep your ideas focused, provide information quickly and clearly and focus on solutions, clearly express your thoughts and ideas, try to write diplomatically and naturally, be professional. You can also try applying this to your CV.

Verbal and non-verbal communication:

Listen and respond. Participate and contribute. Speak tactfully and assertively and adapt how you speak to your audience. Use appropriate body language. Respect others’ opinions. Be creative and don’t be afraid to demonstrate your vision and ideas. At interview, effectively and positively describe your skills and knowledge by illustrating how past experiences are proof of a particular skill or attribute.

This brief overview demonstrates that we can’t ignore what is happening in terms of what skills are in demand. With old hierarchies and structure being replaced with a more flexible and customer-centric approach, where team working and CRM play a key role, it seems that going soft is no longer an option… it’s a fact of life.

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