What are Soft Skills?

Soft Skills represent a range of different abilities, personality traits and attributes that are often necessary for success in a particular role. They can be best described as personal traits that shape the way you work and interact with others.

Soft Skills play a key role in demonstrating how an individual interacts with colleagues, performs work related tasks, communicates and builds relationships.

By 2030 soft skills jobs are predicted to make up 63% of all jobs. And in that time soft skill intensive jobs are predicted to grow 2.5x faster than other jobs.

Why Soft Skills matter?

Soft Skills are becoming more and more important in the workplace. Candidates seeking new employment will often find that job opportunities now put more focus on soft skillsets, with many being deemed essential requirements to being successful in a particular role. The reason soft skills are in such demand is because they are highly transferrable skills that can be applied to numerous situations in a number of different roles. We often find candidates who have the most success in job applications (and interviews) are the ones who are able to provide previous examples of where they used their soft skills and then relate that to the question being asked by the interviewer. A recent Linkedin survey showed that 80% of HR professionals say that soft skills are increasingly important to a company’s (and a candidate’s) success.

Versatile and transferable

One of the main reasons soft skills are so highly desired is their versatility. Unlike hard (technical) skills, which tend to be more role-specific and therefore subject to change with evolving technologies, soft skills remain relevant across numerous job functions and industries. They transcend the boundaries of job titles and can be applied effectively in many different situations. Whether you’re a software developer, a marketing manager, or a customer service representative, soft skills like communication, teamwork, and adaptability are universally applicable.

Evidence of competency

In a competitive job market, showcasing your soft skills is a great way to distinguish yourself from other candidates. Employers and recruiters increasingly seek individuals who not only claim to possess these skills but can provide tangible evidence of their possession. During interviews, candidates who can relate their experiences of using soft skills to specific challenges or achievements within the role often stand out. For instance, sharing a story about how effective communication helped resolve a project’s critical issue or how teamwork led to the successful completion of a complex task demonstrates a genuine competency that employers value.

Crucial in building relationships

Soft skills play a fundamental role in helping you to grow positive relationships at work. Effective communication, active listening, empathy, and conflict resolution skills enable people to better engage with colleagues, clients, and superiors in a more harmonious manner. hese skills contribute to a collaborative and supportive work environment, where teams can thrive and productivity can flourish. In an era where collaboration and teamwork are increasingly essential, individuals with strong skills in these areas become catalysts for success.

Highly valued by HR professionals

A recent survey conducted by LinkedIn underscores the growing importance of soft skills. Approximately 80% of HR professionals acknowledge that soft skills are becoming increasingly critical to both a company’s success and an individual’s career progression. Companies now increasingly recognise that employees with well-developed soft skills are more likely to positively adapt to change, work more effectively with diverse teams, and contribute positively to the organisation’s culture and overall performance.

Holistic success

While technical skills may land you the job, it’s often soft skills that determine how far you advance in your career. As you progress into leadership roles, for example, soft skills will take on an even greater significance. Effective leaders require a unique set of soft skills, including emotional intelligence, decision-making, and the ability to inspire and motivate others. These skills are essential for navigating the complexities of leadership and achieving long-term success in both a personal and organisational capacity.

Soft Skills vs Hard Skills

Soft Skills represent a more inherent skillset that tend to be more people focused in nature. Hard skills are typically easier to define and tend to be based around technical know-how or ‚Äėhow to do something‚Äô. An example of a hard skill could be a computer programmer developing some code for an application, using a specific piece of software or a seamstress making an item of clothing. Unlike Hard Skills which can be learned (and measured) with relative ease, Soft Skills present more of a challenge when it comes to both learning and measurement. Generally speaking Hards Skills are easier to teach through training, education and on-the-job experience.

Soft Skills examples

  • Flexibility

  • Consistency¬†

  • Resistance/willingness to change¬†

  • Listening¬†

  • Conflict resolution¬†

  • Leading others

  • Empathy

  • Persuasion

  • Critical thinking¬†

  • Research¬†

  • Persistance

  • Attention to detail

  • Curiosity

  • Imagination

  • Inventiveness

  • Time management

  • Team work¬†

  • Organisation

  • Decisiveness¬†

Hard Skills examples

  • Computer programming / coding (ruby, python, java, .php etc)

  • Microsoft Excel

  • Adobe Creative Suite

  • Web development¬†

  • Mobile app development

  • Blockchain development¬†

  • Agile methodology¬†

  • Waterfall methodology

  • Kanban methodology etc

  • Speaking multiple languages

  • Copywriting¬†

  • Writing press releases

  • SEO marketing¬†

  • Google adwords etc

  • Graphic design

  • Data visualisation¬†

  • Data mining

  • Interpreting analytics

  • Data presentation / visualisation

  • Business analysis

  • Analytical reasoning

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Are there any disadvantages to Soft Skills?

Despite the value of soft skills, often they wont be enough to land you a role on their own. Some businesses (and industries) will require more hard skills or formal qualifications in order to be offered a job. Without utilising technology (like our leading online assessments platform), soft skills can be more difficult to assess, meaning some employers don’t appreciate their value as much as traditional hard skills.

Research conducted by Harvard University has concluded that 85% of job success comes from having well‚Äźdeveloped soft skills, and only 15% of job success comes from hard technical skills - Interviewarea

How do you show Soft Skills on your CV?

When writing your CV it can be a good idea to create a ‘skills’ section at the bottom. Pick no more than 5 of your top soft skills to show employers. It’s advisable here to briefly explain each point with a relevant example of how that skill has been applied to your working life. Alternatively you can visit our Joy at Work page, take a free personality test and then download a free report that shows your work strengths, you can then use this report to supplement any job application you submit.

Soft Skills FAQs

Soft skills are non-technical skills that relate to how you work and interact with others. They include interpersonal skills, communication abilities, emotional intelligence, and other personal attributes that enable you to navigate your work environment, collaborate with colleagues, and achieve professional goals.

Soft skills are important because they facilitate effective communication, teamwork, problem-solving, and adaptability‚ÄĒskills that are crucial in almost every workplace. They help maintain a positive work environment, enhance customer satisfaction, and are often a key factor in individual and organisational success.

When evaluating new employees, it’s essential to assess a range of soft skills that contribute to their overall effectiveness and ability to collaborate within your organisation. Some key soft skills to look for include:

  • Communication Skills:
    The ability to convey ideas clearly, listen actively, and adapt communication styles for different audiences.

  • Teamwork and Collaboration:
    A candidate’s capacity to work well with others, contribute positively to group dynamics, and share responsibilities.

  • Adaptability:
    The willingness and capability to adapt to new situations, technologies, and processes.

  • Problem-Solving:
    A candidate’s aptitude for identifying issues, analysing data, and proposing effective solutions.

  • Leadership and Influence:
    Even in non-leadership roles, individuals with leadership qualities can inspire and guide their peers.

  • Emotional Intelligence:
    The capacity to understand and manage one’s emotions and effectively navigate social interactions.

  • Time Management:
    The ability to prioritise tasks, meet deadlines, and manage workload efficiently.

  • Conflict Resolution:
    Skill in handling disputes and conflicts constructively, promoting a harmonious work environment.

 

These soft skills complement technical competencies and are often critical for a candidate’s success in a role.

Measuring soft skills in new employees can be challenging but is essential for finding the right fit. You can employ several methods:

  • Behavioural Interviews:
    Ask candidates to provide specific examples of how they’ve demonstrated soft skills in past experiences.

  • Assessment Tools:
    Utilise personality assessments or skill-based tests designed to evaluate soft skills.

  • Reference Checks:
    Contact previous employers or colleagues to gather insights into a candidate’s soft skills.

  • Scenarios and Role-plays:
    Present hypothetical scenarios and observe how candidates respond, revealing their soft skill capabilities.

  • Feedback from Team Members:
    Involve potential future team members in the interview process to gather input on a candidate’s interpersonal skills.

 

Combining these methods can provide a more comprehensive assessment of a candidate’s soft skills and their suitability for the role and organisation.

 

Hard skills are technical abilities or knowledge that are specific to a particular job or industry, such as proficiency in a foreign language or the ability to use certain software.

Soft skills, on the other hand, are interpersonal and behavioral skills that help you work well with others and are transferable across different jobs and industries.

Both soft skills and hard skills are important for career success. While hard skills may get you an interview, soft skills often determine your ability to work well with a team, adapt to changes, and grow within a company.

Employers typically look for a balance of both skill sets.

Soft skills and power skills refer to similar qualities that individuals possess, but there is a subtle difference:

 

  • Soft Skills:
    These are the fundamental interpersonal and communication skills necessary for effective interaction with others. Soft skills encompass traits like communication, teamwork, and adaptability.

  • Power Skills:
    Power skills are a subset of soft skills that hold significant influence over a person’s professional success. They include skills such as leadership, negotiation, and strategic thinking.

 

Essentially, all power skills are soft skills, but not all soft skills are considered power skills. Power skills are often the most impactful in leadership roles.


Read the full article here

Effective leadership requires a unique set of soft skills that go beyond basic interpersonal abilities. In leadership positions, desirable soft skills often include:

  • Vision and Strategic Thinking:
    The ability to set a clear vision for the team or organisation and formulate strategic plans to achieve goals.

  • Decision-Making:
    Making informed and timely decisions, often in complex or ambiguous situations.

  • Conflict Resolution:
    Managing conflicts within the team and promoting a collaborative atmosphere.

  • Influence and Persuasion:
    Convincing and inspiring others to follow a shared vision.

  • Empathy and Emotional Intelligence:
    Understanding the needs and emotions of team members and stakeholders.

  • Effective Communication:
    Clearly conveying ideas, delegating tasks, and providing constructive feedback.

  • Adaptability:
    Being open to change and able to lead through transitions.

 

Strong leaders often excel in these areas, driving their teams and organisations toward success.

Read the full article here

 

Improving soft skills involves self-awareness and a willingness to learn and grow. Seek feedback, observe others who excel in these skills, engage in activities that require teamwork and communication, and consider professional development opportunities focused on soft skills.

Developing soft skills is an ongoing process that involves self-awareness, practice and patience. 

Here are ten tips to enhance your soft skills: Read the full article here

During an interview, you can demonstrate soft skills by actively listening, responding thoughtfully to questions, providing examples of past experiences where you’ve used soft skills, and interacting with the interviewer in a professional and personable manner.

 

Yes, it’s beneficial to include relevant soft skills on your resume.

Highlight specific soft skills that are in demand for the job you’re applying for, and provide examples of how you’ve applied these skills in your professional life.

Soft skills can significantly impact career advancement as they are closely tied to leadership potential and the ability to manage and motivate teams.

Strong soft skills can lead to better job performance, higher satisfaction, and opportunities for promotion.

Absolutely. Soft skills like communication, time management, and self-motivation are especially important when working remotely, as they help maintain productivity and collaboration in the absence of a traditional office environment.

Employers may evaluate soft skills through behavioral interview questions, role-playing scenarios, group interview activities, and reference checks. They look for evidence of these skills in your past work experiences and how you interact during the interview process.

Learn more about Soft Skills