The Top 5 Soft Skills to Boost your Career

Written by: Eugenio Jaramilla

soft skills imageIf I may be so bold as to make an assumption about you. I suspect that most of you work for someone or for a company. And a few of you might be in business for yourself. This means that you have a job!

Who owns that job? Your company owns your job. Who owns your career? You do. Therefore, it’s up to you to take care of your career.

This means being in charge of your continuing education and lifelong learning. Always striving to improve yourself so that you can add value at work.

At the World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland in February 2019, they were discussing the Soft Skills.

As such, I’ve compiled a list of what I feel are The Top 5 Soft Skills to master in order to boost your career.

#1 Public Speaking

“Mastering the art of Public Speaking is the single greatest skill to boost your career.” - Warren Buffet

Most people are terrified of speaking in Public.  In fact, 73% men, and 75% of women fear it so much that there is a term called “Glossophobia” to describe such fear.

What I observed in my 40+ years in Corporate America is that those than can communicate get chosen to present. Those that can present get noticed. Those that get noticed get promoted. Warren goes on to say that “this one skill will increase your earnings by 40%.

Besides a Debate Team in High School you most likely don’t have any Public Speaking training or experience.  Ralph Smedley, founder of Toastmasters international said that ALL speaking is Public Speaking.  Toastmasters is probably the oldest (94 years) and largest organization (over 362,000 members in over 16,100 clubs in 142 countries worldwide) that you probably never heard of. I cannot recommend Toastmasters highly enough.

One class does not a Public Speaker make.  Therefore, joining a club near you that meets at a time and location that is convenient to your schedule is vital to mastering this top skill which can lead to boosting your career.

Practice and Stage Time are critical.  If you want to build muscles you need to go to the gym on a regular basis.  Same thing with Public Speaking. You need to be on the speaking platform in front of about 20 pairs of eyes. That is what produces the pressure and the anxiety. You can practice in front of the mirror. You can video yourself. You can practice with your spouse and friends. But there is nothing like getting up in front of a live group.

Toastmasters is not just about speaking in Public.  You will learn listening and leadership skills. All Construction Managers can benefit from what Toastmasters teaches. Young professionals will need communication skills to deliver project presentations, interview for jobs, speak up in the workplace and attentively listen to others.

#2 Leadership

“Only three things happen naturally in organizations: friction, confusion, and underperformance. Everything else requires leadership.” – Peter Drucker

Leadership is not specifically taught in schools.  Especially in higher education.  Leadership can be learned but it takes years of experience.

Leadership is all about serving others. Leadership is about mentoring others. Being selfless. Giving credit to others. Acting as a role model for others. Leadership is about influencing others.

If you are sitting around waiting for instructions on what to do then you are not a leader.

Back in the day when corporations took care of you, people followed companies. Today, people follow people and sometimes projects especially if you work in Aviation Construction. You have to go to the city in which the airport being built.

Construction Managers need to take charge. It’s in their best interest to keep the project moving.

#3 Mentorship

“One good mentor could be more informative than a college education and more valuable than a decade’s income.” – Eugenio Jaramillo aka #ThePurpleSquirrel

It took me 39 months to earn the Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM) designation. It is the highest education award available from Toastmasters International. I had to prepare, rehearse and deliver over 40 speeches. I served as the President of a club for one year. And a District Officer for another year serving as the Area Director in charge of 5 clubs.

A young lady in one of my clubs approached me. She said that she was about to finish her advanced degree and she was going to start an actuary firm. That she needed me to show her the ropes on becoming DTM as fast as possible. We sat and went over the requirements and developed a game plan. She did it just 29 months!

That is what a mentor does. They show you the way. It’s like the difference between a Travel Agent and a Tour Guide. The Travel Agent asks you where you want to go and will book your flight(s) and hotel(s) and maybe a tour. But the Tour Guide takes you there. Tells you where to stay, where to eat, and what to see.

#4 Networking

“If you are not networking then you are not working.” – Eugenio Jaramillo aka #ThePurpleSquirrel

Now I know that networking is like kryptonite for some of you. But it is an art that you must excel at to create opportunities. Staying at home playing video games and or watching TV is not going to create connections. You have to get out there and meet people.

Be a card collector. Don’t push your card. Wait for the ask. But always get the other party’s card and do follow-up. Connect with them on LinkedIn.

Move in different circles. Have a work and or industry circle. One connected to your faith. Others with your school or hobbies.

#5 Emotional Intelligence

“When dealing with people, let us remember that we are NOT dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion.” - Dale Carnegie

According to the World Economic Forum Future of Jobs Report, Emotional Intelligence (EI) will be among the Top 10 most desirable job skills in 2020.

What is EI? Emotional Intelligence is an individual’s ability to understand and use emotion in himself and others. Another common definition is the ability to recognize, differentiate and manage our own emotions and the emotions of others in our environment. At home, school, work, play or where you pray.

Why should we care about developing our EI skills? Because being able to understand your emotions is fundamental to understanding what it is that will make you more high-functioning and lead you to flourish.

How? There are four categories: Perceiving emotions, Understanding emotions, Managing emotions, and Using emotions.

Recognize, understand, and perceive these basic emotions: Anger, Disgust, Fear, Happiness, Sadness, Contempt, and Surprise.

Here are some of the most common negative, emotions in the Workplace: Frustration/irritation, Worry/nervousness, Anger/aggravation, Dislike, Disappointment/unhappiness.

Here are my top 10 strategies to manage negative emotions at work:

  1. Compartmentalization (negative emotions from home affect your work)
  2. Deep breathing & relaxation techniques
  3. The 10-second rule (when something happens count to ten)
  4. Clarify (ask for orders given to be repeated back)
  5. Blast your anger through exercise
  6. Never reply or make a decision when angry, especially to emails
  7. Know your triggers and those of others
  8. Be respectful
  9. Apologize for any emotional outburst. Be humble.
  10. Never bring your negative work emotions home

Lastly, here is the best article I’ve read on Emotional Intelligence

Written by: Eugenio "Geno" Jaramillo, Professional Speaker and Speaking Coach. He can be reached at