What Are Soft Skills?
Soft skills are personal attribute-driven general skills, such as the ability to give and receive feedback, work collaboratively, and manage time. They are usually self-developed (as opposed to hard skills, which you typically acquire in school or on the job), and they’ll help you in a wide range of jobs, not just the target job you’re applying for.
In August 2016, LinkedIn published the results of a year-long study they conducted on soft skills, and listed the 10 that were the most sought-after by employers. Below is the list; explanations of each skill provided by me. Whether you’re writing your resume or prepping for an interview, focus on noting/exemplifying the skills that you’ve gained mastery of.
Here are the top ten soft skills in demand for today’s job market:
1. Communication: More than just clearly speaking the language, communication skills involve active listening and excellent presentation and writing capabilities. One highly sought-after communication skill is the ability to explain technical concepts to partners, customers, and coworkers who aren’t tech-savvy.
2. Organization: Planning and effectively implementing projects and general work tasks for yourself and others is a highly effective soft skill to have. Haphazard, slapdash organization wastes your colleagues’ time and your employers’ money, so having stacked skills in the organization department will always come in handy.
3. Teamwork Skills: The bigger the company you work for, the bigger the chance that you’re a member of more than one team, which means solid team player skills are crucial. How well do you work with other team members in reaching team goals? How do you help other team members? Are you an asset to every team that you’re a part of, and how?
4. Punctuality: No one likes to wait. Not for employees late to a meeting; not for candidates late to a job interview; and certainly not for colleagues who deliver their work late on million-dollar business projects. We’ve all heard some variation of “5 minutes early is on time. On time is late. Late is unacceptable.” Where do you fall on the punctuality scale?
5. Critical Thinking: The ability to use imagination, reasoning, past experience, research, and available resources to fundamentally understand and then resolve issues is attractive for obvious reasons. Highlight this skill by listing an example (or speaking of one in an interview) of a time when your company was dealt a sticky situation and you effectively addressed/resolved it via critical thinking skills.
6. Social Skills: The more people you come into contact with on a daily basis, the more important your social skills will be to your success. Can you handle yourself in all situations when dealing with other people, regardless of stature, position, or rank? Can you deal with a wide variety of personalities?
7. Creativity: This is probably the most underrated soft skill because it usually takes someone creative to appreciate the need for others who are, and most people just aren’t that creative. Creativity doesn’t mean being an artist; it means being resourceful and innovative in finding solutions to problems at work. Can you tell a story of an unusual or unconventional way that you solved a problem at work?
8. Interpersonal Communication: The ability to work in teams, relate to people, and manage conflict is a valuable asset in the workplace. Interpersonal communication is an important skill to hone to get ahead, and as you advance in your career, the aptitude to work with others becomes even more crucial.
9. Adaptability: Don’t underestimate the ability to adapt to changes. In today’s tech-driven and rapidly evolving business environment, the ability to pick up on new technologies and adjust to changing business surroundings is critically important.
10. Friendly Personality: People want to work with people they like, or think they’ll like—people who are easygoing, optimistic, and even fun to be around regardless of situation. Do other people tend to come away feeling good after working with you? How can you tell?
Here are a few additional soft skills that are often in demand:
Strong Work Ethic: Employers are looking for employees that take initiative, are reliable, and can do the job right the first time. Managers don’t have the time or resources to babysit, so this is a skill that is expected from all employees.
Emotional Intelligence: Although you will most likely never see this in a job description, EI is a highly sought-after skill that relates to your ability to identify and manage not just your emotions, but those of others. Think of it this way: an employee who can talk another employee off a ledge—say, someone who’s having a particularly bad day, and showing it with their actions and emotions—would be considered someone with a high EI.
Computer and Technical Literacy: Almost all jobs nowadays require basic competency in computer software, but many job seekers fail to provide this section because they think it’s implied. If computer skills are relevant to your field, insert a “Technical Skills” or “Systems Proficiencies” section to your resume.
Research Skills: With Google at the tip of your fingers, it’s easy to find answers to common issues. However, hiring managers seek employees that are skilled at assessing situations, are able to seek multiple perspectives, and gather more in-depth, harder-to-locate information.
Process Improvement Expertise: The number one goal every company has in common is to save money. Optimizing business procedures can save a company time and money. Quantify results in your resume by listing the before and after facts of projects that you took on.
Include These Skills On Your Own Resume!
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A cover letter is your opportunity to emphasize the skills that make you stand out from the crowd. Resume Builder’s Cover letter templates, examples and tips help you create an effective cover letter in minutes!