Employers in most fields, including personal training, look for a combination of hard and soft skills in their potential employees. Hard skills include teachable abilities that are easy to quantify and often are the technical aspects of a job. Soft skills differ in that they are subjective abilities that are much harder to quantify such as communication, social interaction and listening. Hard or technical skills are often listed on one’s resume, making it easy for a recruiter to recognize their potential aptitude for a position. Soft skills, or “people skills”, are not usually presented in any position of prominence on a resume even though they may be more valuable. Many employers look for applicants with strong soft skills because they are very hard to train. It is usually much easier to teach a person how to use computer software than to develop a soft skill such as patience or empathy.
Many industry analysts and experts conclude that if a person can develop excellent soft skills, they can make themselves employable in practically any field. Most people would agree that soft skills are a primary contributor to success in personal training, due to the personal aspect of the service provided.
Emotional Intelligence – Determines how well you can relate to other people and develop rapport. This is a key attribute when managing or working within a team, networking, or simply dealing with office politics.
Communication Skills – You might be the brightest bulb of the bunch, but if you cannot communicate clearly and effectively your ideas may go to waste. This skill also goes a long way when interacting with people and managing interpersonal relationships. Like many service based fields communication is a key skill for personal trainers when interacting with clients and colleagues.
Flexibility and Patience – Being able to deal with curve balls thrown your way is critical in today’s business environment. Likewise, being able to deal with the numerous types of personalities in a respectful and calm manner can go a long way in the perception of professionalism and in control.
Decisiveness – A person that can make a decision with confidence is desirable for most positions, especially within the higher levels of a company. It often is associated with confidence as the trait lends itself to people who know what they want or need.
Integrity – Having integrity essentially means you can own up to your mistakes and will do what you say you are going to do. It also includes the ability to say “I don’t know”. Integrity helps develop trust and respect with those you work with.
Time Management and Focus – Being able to manage your time appropriately to deal with simple tasks at hand as well as long-term objectives is critical to success. Also, remaining focused on each task (even if “multi-tasking” is required) will increase productivity and precision in executing projects.
Drive – Having “drive” means that you consistently apply yourself ; it speaks to effort and interest making it desirable attribute at work. Likewise it is perceived to be maintained by those who demonstrate a desire to continually improve. It doesn’t necessarily mean working 60-70 hours a week, but that you are committed to your work and doing it the best you can.
Teamwork – Being able to work effectively in a team is increasingly important in today’s work environment. Practicing empathy and understanding can help you improve your interactions when it is necessary to work in a team.
Balance – One of the most important aspects to a successful and long-lasting career is the maintenance of life balance. This is obtained through various means for different people, but the key is to make sure you don’t burn yourself out – which has nothing but negative repercussions for your potential for success.
The ability to develop soft skills is similar to the effort to develop hard skills. Identifying those who possess the skills and emulating their personal traits can be very effective. Additionally, peer feedback can be used to help gauge how you are perceived. Identifying weaknesses and making effort to work on the skills that improve them can go a long way in maximizing your professional capabilities.