Though hard skills show off your experience and understanding of a particular, measurable ability, soft skills often indicate your ability to work with others and grow within a company. Soft skills help you build relationships and solve problems to use your hard skills to their full extent. Listing soft skills on your resume, demonstrating them in an interview and developing them in the workplace can support your career and open you to new opportunities.
In this article, we review ten of the key reasons why soft skills are important and how they can strengthen your job application.
Related: Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills
Who uses soft skills?
Some professions like customer service are synonymous with soft skills, but everyone uses soft skills regardless of their job. Any time you interact with a coworker, client or customer, you have the opportunity to use soft skills to make your work easier, better or more efficient. Managing time, adapting to new situations, and working well under pressure are all soft skills that transfer to any workplace environment at any level of experience.
Why are soft skills important?
Employers recognize the importance of soft skills in the workplace, so it's important for people to put soft skills at the forefront of job applications. Soft skills demonstrate that you understand the different characteristics that will help you succeed within an organization and your specific position. Here are some of the top reasons soft skills are important when finding a job and growing your career. Soft skills:
When hiring for a position, most employers look for signs that an applicant will stay at their company long-term. If an employee shows the capacity to grow at a company, that employer will not have to expend more resources hiring a replacement. Soft skills like conflict resolution, commitment and motivation can make you a long-term asset to employers. Your attitude towards work is one of the most important indicators of longevity at a job, and employers may use longevity to decide between two similar applicants.
If you're applying for a position as part of a team, the hiring manager will judge your application partly based on how well you can fit into a group dynamic. Employers use soft skills as a way to measure your teamwork and communication abilities. Regardless of how great your technical skills are, you need to be a team player to use them effectively. To appeal to an employer's goal of finding a great team member, list soft skills like flexibility and active listening on your resume.
Soft skills not only support your relationships in the workplace, they determine your success working with clients and business partners. Employers seek out employees they can trust to represent the company in a professional and friendly way. Soft skills differentiate between candidates who are qualified for a job and candidates who will exceed expectations by putting effort into their professional relationships. People with a good disposition for customer service are good for business in any industry, at any level of experience.
Grow a network
Soft skills are critical for creating and growing your personal network and making professional contacts in the workplace. People with strong soft skills have a curious attitude that allows them to pursue professional leads and develop industry knowledge at a fast pace. Employers rely on people who have a strong professional network to help them make business connections, provide professional development and even make hiring decisions. If you can recommend useful services due to your network, your employer will likely value your opinions and ideas more highly.
Most soft skills contribute to your ability to not only use your existing skills well but to develop and grow those skills consistently over time. The ability to accept and implement feedback is a soft skill that many people struggle with. Employers also want to hire people who not only respond to criticism from others but consistently look for ways to improve without being asked. Use your soft skills to be self-sufficient and reflective when it comes to work, and you can quickly become a standout employee.
Attention to detail, time management and the ability to delegate are all soft skills that determine how organized you are at work. Being organized will help you prove that you are a reliable resource who can not only do their work well but do it in a timely manner. Organization combined with other soft skills like communication helps you build trust between your team because they know they can rely on you to help them find the information they need. You can begin showing potential employers your organization skills even before interviewing by communicating in a timely manner and submitting a well-formatted resume.
Employers hire and promote people who regularly demonstrate motivation and initiative. Having a positive attitude and being creative both show employers that you have the initiative to think of new projects or ways to solve problems. Soft skills also help you follow through on your ideas, using motivation to translate brainstorming sessions into actionable projects. Emphasize your soft skills to show employers that you have plans to grow and inspire others through your focus and drive.
Show employers that you have leadership capabilities by emphasizing soft skills on your resume. Focusing on your soft skills shows that you are thoughtful about how your habits and attitude impact others in the workplace, an essential part of great leadership. One of the reasons employers seek out soft skills is that they are more nuanced than technical skills and can adapt to a variety of personality types and settings. People with strong soft skills can analyze what kind of leadership strategies their team needs to succeed and implement different strategies for each setting.
Your social skills can help you navigate workplace issues with confidence. Your confidence will help you influence others and persuade them of your perspective in professional situations. This can be especially useful during an interview, where your confidence in your soft skills could convince an employer to choose you over another applicant. Using soft skills to build your confidence can help you integrate into a new workplace environment and establish yourself as an essential member of their team.
Establish a reputation
Soft skills are not just important for growing your reputation, they can also contribute to your employer's reputation. The way you interact with clients and business partners can influence how people perceive a company within your community, impacting their ability to do business. Your soft skills determine the success of your social interactions, the timeliness of your work and your ability to mediate conflicts on behalf of your employer to build a great reputation.