“Soft skills” is a term frequently thrown into conversations about jobs and interviewing as a key to landing a good opening. But which soft skills matter in the context of job searching, and are they important?
As someone with a liberal arts background, I’ve long regretted my lack of formal technical or mathematical training, and wrote off soft skills as basic people skills that anyone with any sort of social etiquette already possesses. In other words, I didn’t think soft skills were anything I could use to market myself in any powerful way, or something I could benefit from further developing.
Turns out, that was a mistake.
While soft skills include effective interpersonal communication (which is in itself a marketable job skill), there’s more to them than that, and they are increasingly important for the job search.
Which skills are important?
A recent post from Fast Company highlights surveys by Adecco and Manpower Group finding, respectively, that “soft skills, such as communication, critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration” are the areas with “the biggest gap[,]” in employees, and “nearly one in five employers worldwide is unable to fill positions because they can’t find people with soft skills.”
So, soft skills are kind of a big deal for the job search.
The good news is that many soft skills are things you can work on without formal training.
The Fast Company post cites transparency, collaboration, and listening among the top five soft skills. Other examples include the ability to work on a team, ability to persuade others, and to communicate effectively within an organization, as well as prioritizing with little direction, making presentations to customers or internal teams, and taking direction from multiple management styles.
Of course, there’s nothing particularly surprising about the need for these skills. But understanding their importance to employers gives job-seekers, especially new graduates or other less experienced hires, something concrete on which to focus their efforts.
— Hanna Shtein, Intern, Curren Media Group