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5 top soft skills to impress employers

Last updated

20 December 2023

Author

Dovetail Editorial Team

Reviewed by

Shawnna Johnson

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Whether you're applying for your dream job or thinking about your future, it's important to present yourself well to employers. And if you’re an employer, you want to find the best fit for the role, and that’s where soft skills are vital. 

Soft skills are qualities that every employer looks for, such as strong communication and empathy. These skills can demonstrate an ability to work well as part of a team, whatever the industry or position. 

Listing the right soft skills on your resume and putting those skills into action can show employers, managers, and leaders that you’re a force to be reckoned with.

Let’s look at soft skills examples and discover why they’re so valuable.

What are soft skills?

Soft skills are general behavioral traits like resilience, conscientiousness, and empathy. You can develop these traits and transfer them from role to role. They play an important part in your professional and personal lives, so working on them can improve many facets of your life. 

What's the difference between soft skills and hard skills?

Hard and soft skills are essential for any professional. Employers often overlook soft skills like interpersonal skills, work ethic, and punctuality in favor of hard skills like experience. However, they both play a crucial role in how you behave as an employee.  

Experience, education, and knowledge are quantifiable hard skills necessary for specific jobs. Formal training, from college courses to on-the-job training, is a great way to gain these skills.

Soft skills aren’t quantifiable, but they’re key to good relationships and adaptability.

You can develop hard and soft skills. 

Why are soft skills important?

Soft skills are often harder to acquire than hard skills, and they can be invaluable during your career journey. Some soft skills may come naturally, while you may need to learn and perfect others. 

According to Forbes, employees who demonstrate exceptional soft skills are more likely to progress in their chosen career field. 

If you're an employer, it’s paramount to identify employees who have mastered soft skills that match your company's values or culture. It’ll help you know who to hire and eventually promote into positions of influence within the company.

5 soft skills examples that employers look for in employees

Dozens of soft skills deserve attention. However, five specific soft skills can help you thrive personally and professionally. 

These soft skills are the most valuable to employers:

Communication

Becoming a strong communicator can help you succeed in every facet of your life. 

Your communication skills affect your ability to work with your colleagues, and these skills can aid you in building stronger professional relationships. 

Communication is a soft skill everyone should develop, from active listening to appropriate body language.

Problem-solving

Problems will inevitably occur in every job across industries. The best way to prepare for these issues is to hire effective problem-solvers. 

Problem-solving includes understanding the root cause of the problem, troubleshooting, and resolving associated issues. 

A strong problem solver can think logically and devise creative solutions to problems, preventing delays and future issues.

Creativity

Creativity is a soft skill that can seriously pay off. Thinking outside the box can yield more market growth and lead to more satisfied customers. 

Creativity can assist with problem-solving and teamwork—creative employees are invaluable for brainstorming and idea-formation sessions.

Adaptability

Adaptability is the ability to adjust to any situation and thrive in the face of change. Just like problems, change is inevitable in business.

Employees who can roll with the punches will create a positive work environment and influence other teammates for good. Staffing, structural, and environmental shifts don’t faze an adaptable worker. 

Work ethic

Every company wants movers and shakers. These employees prioritize productivity and performance, setting lofty goals for themselves and working hard to meet those goals. 

They can improve the employee experience for others within the company by setting an example and providing inspiration and motivation.  

A strong work ethic is a soft skill that can translate to success across industries.

How to evaluate soft skills in the workplace

It's not always easy to assess soft skills. Many employers might focus solely on a candidate’s hard skills, but it’s crucial to dig deeper and learn what lies beneath the surface.  

Successful organizations know to hire for soft skills and train for hard skills since the former is sometimes harder to find.

Evaluating soft skills in candidates

The best way to evaluate soft skills in candidates is to know what you need before any job posting. Develop a deep understanding of what soft skills would benefit the role you're hiring for and note these in the job ad. 

You should also prepare specific questions for the candidate, addressing the most notable soft skills. These questions should ask how the candidate used their soft skills in a previous job.

It can also help to ask hypothetical questions and present games and scenarios that test specific abilities. 

Pay close attention to how candidates react during the interview. Their body language and responses can help you determine their suitability for the position.

Assessing soft skills in colleagues

It can be harder to measure the soft skills of employees you may not see or interact with regularly.

A team member who primarily works online during the day, with very little interpersonal interaction, may not get many opportunities to show off their communication skills. 

However, collaborative situations are when colleagues can shine. When they exhibit strong empathy, creativity, and problem-solving, fellow employees and managers can evaluate and admire their soft skills.

How to improve soft skills

There are several ways to improve your soft skills—experience and practice are key to success.  

One way is to find a mentor who’s mastered the soft skills you want to develop. Your mentor could be in your industry or a different line of work entirely. 

Classes, books, self-development courses, and working with a business development coach are other great ways to boost your skills. 

It can also help to get a good understanding of yourself. Self-assessment tools and quizzes can help with this. 

The Myers-Briggs Personality Test is a popular self-assessment tool, giving you a powerful look at how you show up in the workplace.

Another method is asking for feedback from a trusted leader, coworker, or friend. They can give you feedback on how well you deliver on a soft skill.  

If communication is your goal, you could ask specific questions for insight into what you’re doing well and where you could improve.  

Highlight your soft skills for job applications

When building your resume, highlight soft skills along with hard ones. Prioritize transferable soft skills, such as teamwork and adaptability. 

You should also match your relevant skills to the job description, quickly showing hiring managers you’re a good fit.

For cover letters, think of the most in-demand soft skills and highlight them. An example is communication—it’ll serve you well in any job. 

Consider mentioning your strong communication skills in the cover letter and relate how you were able to use those skills at a previous job. If you talk to customers or colleagues daily, emphasize your achievements as a result of your communication skills.

Drawing attention to your soft skills is a great way to show employers that you’re a fantastic all-rounder. Soft skills are essential for everyone to master. Knowing yourself, your top soft skills, and how you work best can create more professional opportunities for you

FAQs

Is language a soft skill?

Speaking a language fluently or being multilingual is a hard skill. Using language well is part of communication skills, a soft skill that every employer wants in an employee. 

Communication helps employees navigate job intricacies, establish stronger interpersonal relationships, and better represent the company to customers and colleagues.

Is writing a soft skill?

Writing is a hard skill, as it’s teachable and measurable, but effective written communication is a soft skill. 

The ability to communicate through the written word is incredibly valuable, regardless of the employee's role within the company. 

Even if you aren't responsible for marketing or corporate communications, writing a succinct, professional email is an important skill.

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