Here's How Your Soft Skills Can Save Your Job

Being fired stinks. Even if you hated your job, it's still a blow to the ego. Most people understand they're on the rocks well before they're terminated. Few realize how they can take concrete steps to correct course beforehand.

The consulting company Leadership IQ recently surveyed more than 5,200 hiring managers about 20,000 employees hired over a period of three years. Nearly 9 out of 10 new hires who lost their jobs within 18 months were let go because of one amorphous reason: attitude. According to reporting by MarketWatch, that covers a wide range of so-called soft skills, such as "temperament, low emotional intelligence, the inability to receive feedback, poor teamwork and cooperation, and a lack of motivation." In contrast, fewer than one-third were let go because they didn't have the technical expertise to do their jobs.

The good news is that soft skills can be learned just like hard skills can. Employees may have trouble recognizing that, however, if they can't see past being told they're not a culture fit. Stanford University lecturer Leah Weiss recommends courses in mindfulness; some self-help books and even apps have been shown to be as helpful as in-person training. If you're in the job market and unable to make it past the interview, pay attention next time to how hiring managers ask about your soft skills. These are increasingly being weighted as much as your resume and expertise.

Troubleshooting your soft skills can help in the workplace and in the rest of your life. There's no reason not to give them more thought and practice.