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How to maximise your soft skills for roles in STEM


Ellie Green

Marketing Assistant, Milkround

Employers value more than just the subjects you’ve studied, or the work experience you have. Your soft skills show your professionalism in many ways, here’s how to make the most of them when looking for roles in STEM…

You cannot underestimate the power of your soft skills when it comes to applying for a role in the STEM industry. Here are some of the essential soft skills to perfect…


Adapting to new situations and recovering from difficulties or setbacks.

When things don’t go your way, resilience is your ability to recover and move on. Seeing mistakes as a chance to learn, rather than something negative, while being determined to keep trying, is a good example of this. Your first job will bring about a lot of change, so you need to be able to navigate this with enthusiasm. Always ask for advice – people respect that being in a new environment is daunting and that you want to do a good job, so they’ll be happy to help!

Managing up

Being flexible in your approach in communicating with your manager and other senior leadership in a business.

Managing up is something you learn best on the job – it’s all about how you manage people’s expectations of the work you’re producing, how you interact and show your respect for more senior people in the company you work for. Really, it’s about making sure you successfully alter your approach to ensure it’s appropriate for whoever you’re speaking to. Good examples of this are speaking about projects with your teachers or knowing how to communicate efficiently and effectively with a senior member of staff at work.

Leadership skills

The ability to take charge of a situation, to be responsible and take ownership of projects.

You may think you’ve never had the chance to prove your leadership skills, but the basic traits that make a good leader can be found in different contexts. If you’re part of a sports team; a mentor for a younger student; if people look to you to organise the group in a team project, or if you find yourself settling disputes in your peer group in a democratic way, you’re a natural born leader!


Self-belief in your own abilities or qualities.

Speaking of confidence, this is the soft skill that 46% of 16-24-year olds wish they had more of.* There’s no “one rule fits all” for this one, as not everyone finds the same situations nerve-wracking. The main thing to remember is that the more you tackle the things that make you nervous – whether that’s presenting in front of your classmates or raising your hand to ask a question – the more confident you’ll grow. Acknowledging the things that intimidate you is the first step to being more confident, plus it proves you’re self-aware, which is another sought-after soft skill.

Identifying the soft skills you have by having clear examples that show each one in action is a great technique to use in application forms, or in an interview situation for a role in the STEM industry. Alongside your interest in science, tech, engineering or maths, your soft skills are powerful tools – so make sure you shout about them! Roles in STEM are waiting for you!

*Statistics from Milkround’s Candidate Compass Report 2018.

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