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Why Soft Skills Are So Important

African American woman in the workplace

89% of recruiters say bad hires typically lack soft skills (LinkedIn, 2019)

What exactly are soft skills and how important are they? According to The Balance Careers:

“Soft skills relate to how you work. Soft skills include interpersonal (people) skills, communication skills, listening skills, time management, and empathy, among others. They are among the top skills employers seek in the candidates they hire, because soft skills are important for just about every job.>

Hiring managers typically look for job candidates with soft skills because they make someone more successful in the workplace. Someone can be excellent with technical, job-specific skills, but if they can't manage their time or work within a team, they may not be successful in the workplace.”

The Balance Careers also points out:

Why Soft Skills Are So Important

Employers value soft skills and rate them as important to the success of most their businesses. After all, nearly every job requires employees to interact with others in some way.

Another reason hiring managers and employers look for applicants with soft skills is that these types of  skills are very transferable. In other words, this makes job candidates with soft skills very adaptable and flexible employees.

Soft skills are particularly valuable in customer-facing jobs. It takes several soft skills to be able to listen to a customer and provide that customer with helpful and polite service.

You'll find soft skills useful even if you're not in a client-facing role, as these skills will aid you in being able to get along with coworkers, managers, vendors, and any other people you interact with at work.

Types of Soft Skills

  • Adaptability 
  • Communication 
  • Compromise
  • Creative thinking
  • Dependability
  • Leadership
  • Listening
  • Work ethic 
  • Teamwork
  • Positivity 
  • Time management 
  • Motivation 
  • Problem-solving 
  • Critical thinking
  • Conflict resolution
  • Negotiation

How to Develop Soft Skills

Unlike hard skills that can be learned, soft skills are similar to emotions or insights that allow people to “read” others. Soft skills are much harder to learn, at least in a traditional classroom. They are also much harder to measure and evaluate.

Job training programs do cover some soft skills. They may cover soft skills so job seekers know the importance of highlighting them on their resume. There are also free online resources that can help you improve your soft skills.

If you've been working for a while, chances are you've already developed some soft skills. For example, if you've worked in retail, you've worked in a team environment. If you've helped unhappy customers find a resolution, you've used conflict resolution and problem-solving skills.

If you're new to work, think of other activities you've done, either through school or on a volunteer basis. Chances are you've had to communicate, adapt to changes, and solve problems.

You can also reflect on soft skills you need to develop. For example, instead of just discussing problems with your manager, suggest solutions to those problems. If you see a colleague struggling, offer to pitch in. If there's a process that could improve your workplace, suggest it.

Employers typically don't directly ask if you have soft skills. Instead, they present situations and ask what you would do to assess whether you have soft skills.

How to Showcase Your Soft Skills

When you're applying for a job, besides job-specific skills, be sure to highlight your soft skills. Just because soft skills  aren't not mentioned in the job posting or description, does not mean that mentioning them won't give you an advantage. (TIP: Make a list of the soft skills you have that are relevant to the job you want. Compare your list of soft skills with the job listing.)

List some of your soft skills in your resume. You can add them to a skills section.

Your cover letter is another ideal place to highlight your soft skills. Choose one or two soft skills you have that appear to be the most important for the job you're looking for. Backing the skills up with real world evidence shows you have those particular skills.

Finally, interviews are the perfect way to out your soft skills in action. You can do this during the interview by giving off a friendly and approachable vibe. Another example is by being attentive to the interviewer while they are talking, showing that you have top notch listening skills.

To learn more about what recruiters are looking for in top candidates, reach out to one of our recruiting experts:  www.hobsonassoc.com/staff