Freelancing has become a popular career option for professionals seeking autonomy and flexibility in their careers. With the rise of the digital age and the gig economy, more people are venturing into the world of freelancing, where they can showcase their skills and work on projects that align with their passions.
According to this study, 61% of freelancers specialize in up to three different talents, and only 5% focus their work around a single skill. As this statistic suggests, freelancers need a core set of skills that set them apart from their competitors and to succeed in a competitive market. In this article, we will explore the 9 essential soft skills that every self-employed professional should possess in order to thrive in their careers.
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The Difference Between Soft & Hard Skills
‘Core’ skills, or core competencies, refer to the fundamental abilities that are essential for success in any field or profession. These skills form the foundation upon which individuals can build their expertise and excel in their chosen area of work.
There are two types of core skills: hard skills and soft skills. Hard or technical skills refer to the abilities that are specific to your job, for example, Python for software developers. Soft skills are the skills that you can transfer from job to job, regardless of the industry. These include good interpersonal skills, time management, and basic IT skills.
Hard skills are essential for professional success, and can be acquired by completing courses, studying for a degree, or doing an apprenticeship. These skills are usually not easy to build, and are highly sought after in certain industries.
Soft skills may not seem as important as hard skills, but 78% of freelancers agree that soft skills are just as necessary as technical skills to succeed in their work, if not more necessary. Soft skills are more accessible to acquire, and many people are naturally equipped with very useful soft skills that can help them in their careers. They can also be beneficial when starting out as a freelancer and gaining experience.
9 Essential Soft Skills That Every Freelancer Should Possess
In addition to the necessary technical skills, freelance professionals should do their best to acquire the following soft skills. These can assist in the running of a business, project management, and client acquisition, and are essential for a successful business.
✅ Good Communication
It is crucial that every freelancer possess good communication skills, as they themselves will be responsible for all correspondence between themselves and the clients. The ability to convey and understand ideas and concepts, as well as prompt and professional communication, are non-negotiable soft skills to have.
✅ Time Management
Freelancers are responsible for meeting deadlines and managing their own schedules, all while being mindful of their clients’ schedules. This makes time management essential, as procrastination and poor planning can result in failed projects and unhappy clients.
Being open to change, embracing new technologies and trends, and readily adjusting to shifting project requirements can be beneficial when working with a variety of different clients on a wide array of projects. No two jobs will be the same, and some may require more adaptability than others.
Maintaining discipline and focus while working independently can be difficult, even for the most motivated freelancers. Therefore, the ability to self-motivate can be the difference between success and failure for any self-employed individual.
✅ Problem Solving
Odds are that many issues will arise along the way, and the freelancer is solely responsible for managing and solving them all. Because of this, freelance professionals should have the ability to identify and address obstacles creatively and find innovative solutions for problems, all while maintaining a level of professionalism.
✅ Client Relationship Management
Freelancers should be able to build and nurture strong relationships with their clients, understand their needs, and provide exceptional customer service. Building solid professional relationships can be beneficial in both client acquisition and client retention, which can both directly lead to the long-term success of a freelance business.
Working well with other team members, subcontractors, or clients on collaborative projects is also an essential skill to possess, in order to foster a positive and productive work environment and avoid any conflict.
✅ Organizational Skills
Freelancers should have good project management skills, as well as be able to organize and plan all aspects of a project while managing their business. Generally, freelancers don’t have the help of a secretary or assistant in assisting with day-to-day tasks, and are responsible for all processes themselves.
Above all else, freelancers should be professional in their dealings with clients and any other stakeholders or team members. Demonstrating integrity, reliability, and ethical behavior can help in building relationships with clients, avoiding conflict, and creating a solid and positive reputation for the business.
While technical skills are crucial for freelancers, it is the soft skills that truly make a difference in their success. By developing and honing these skills, freelancers can effectively manage their projects, deliver exceptional work, build strong client relationships, and ultimately thrive in their careers. Soft skills do not only enhance the freelancer’s professional reputation, but can also contribute to their overall success in the competitive freelance market.
Freelancers should also recognize the importance of continuously improving and refining their soft skills, as they play a significant role in differentiating themselves from the competition and creating a lasting impact on their clients. By investing in their soft skills development, freelancers can achieve long-term success in the ever-evolving world of freelancing.