Whilst you may have heard the term soft skills before, perhaps in relation to hard skills, it may not always be clear what they are or what should even be included in a so-called soft skills list. Learning and developing soft skills is a fantastic way to make your mark in a competitive jobs market and show you are a fantastic asset to any team. Our guide is here to introduce you to the topic of what soft skills are, why they are important and how you can develop them for yourself.

By now you probably know that soft skills and hard skills are both important to have on your CV. But what are soft skills? Soft skills in the workplace are personal attributes, social skills, emotional intelligence and all other skills that, although not listed as hard skills on job applications, are no less important when it comes to hiring and developing in the workplace. Soft skills development is integral to creating a successful team environment and managing businesses well. Soft skills training could make all of the difference between a successful business bid and an unsuccessful business bid and lead to a team that works well and contributes to a successful business.

What is the Difference Between Hard and Soft Skills?

To put it simply, hard skills are measurable skills that can be taught through a specific course or training. Some examples of hard skills could be data analysis or knowledge of a specific computer program. Soft skills, in contrast, could be described as skills that make you a good team member or a good employee. These can include things such as listening skills, creativity, dependability or organisation. Indicating good soft skills on your CV, during an interview or in your workplace indicates to employers that you are an asset to their company and are able to do more than simply ‘go through the motions’ in a given role. Whilst hard skills tend to be more industry-specific, soft skills transcend industries and can benefit a wide range of enterprises.

What Are Some Examples of Soft Skills?

Soft skills in the workplace can include a number of different areas, here is our top soft skills list for those looking to further their career.

1. Problem-Solving

In any career, there will come a time when a problem or new project arises that needs solving. This could include things such as thinking of alternative solutions, negotiating with involved parties, logical reasoning and decision-making. Each of these skills alone can make a successful employee, but each is fundamental to solving problems, a key soft skill employers often look for.

2. Communication

Communication is a key soft skill when it comes to conducting business efficiently and building a strong team. Expressing yourself through either written or oral form clearly is integral to many business functions and will be used by everyone from customer service agents to high-level managers in order to ensure information is given when needed and tasks properly fulfilled. Communication skills often include empathy, confidence, respect and constructive feedback as well as friendliness and clarity.

3. Attention to Detail

Attention to detail is key when producing any sort of work and employers often look for this key soft skill during the hiring process. Critical observation, analysis, listening and memory are all cross-industry skills that shouldn’t be underestimated.

4. Adaptability

No business can fully expect to know everything that might happen in the future. Business or industry needs may change over time and it is important that employers have people in place who are able to adapt to those changes and thrive in different environments. Curiosity, calmness, optimism, open-mindedness, organisation and self-confidence are all key to being an adaptable employee.

5. Creativity

When looking at a typical soft skills list, creativity is often overlooked as many don’t see how it could be key to their career. No matter what your job role is, there will inevitably come a time when you are required to ‘think outside of the box’ and come up with a new concept, process or plan. In industries such as design and marketing creativity is an integral part of the role. However, imagination, innovation and experimentation are all key parts of the modern workplace and are important to help businesses move forward with industry developments.

6. Time Management

Being able to manage your time well is a soft skill that most employers will find mandatory. It is important that managers or clients know that you can get the job done on time and manage your own workload. Planning, setting goals, delegation, prioritisation and decision-making are all strong soft skills to develop and if you can demonstrate these soft skills on your CV through key examples, this will make you a strong candidate, whatever the position.

How Do I Develop My Soft Skills?

Whilst you may know that you want to develop your soft skills, you may be unsure where to start. The first step towards soft skill development is self-awareness. You should first learn to evaluate your own work behaviour and reflect on your own personal skills.

Are you able to list an example of a time you have used each of the soft skills listed in this blog? If not, it might be worth taking a look at why and seeing how you can practice those soft skills going forward. It may be that you focus on how you are communicating with your friends or co-workers, you may ask to take on some projects of your own at work to practice your time-management and decision-making skills. Many people might have natural soft skills such as being good communicators or being extremely organised but these are skills that can be practised and improved in order to become a rounded employee.