Top 9 Soft Skills and Why They Matter

Are you starting your search for a new job or in the middle of the process? If you’ve nailed down the technical ‘hard skills’ on your resume, you’re off to a great start. Now it’s time to think about the ‘soft’ skills. What are soft skills you ask? Soft skills are the traits and interpersonal skills that come into play in the workplace. Soft skills, such as organizational and communication skills, are important for every job regardless of industry, seniority, or job function.

Check out the job descriptions of the job you want. Many employers may have strong feelings about certain soft skills that they will outline in their job description, such as, 'strong verbal and written communication skills necessary'. Don't miss out on an opportunity to play up your strengths! Come prepared to an interview with specific examples that showcase the soft skills that they're looking for.

Actions speak louder than words; show your potential and current employers that you have more than just the technical expertise, but the soft skills to be a cultural fit as well.

Here are our top nine soft skills:

9. Communication skills

This day in age, email and messaging are kings of the workplace. Any and every person in the workplace needs to be able to communicate quickly and effectively. Grammar mistakes, unclear objectives, incomprehensible statements, are going to get you noticed but not for good reason. Written and verbal communication skills may seem like a cliché requirement on the job description you're looking over, but that's because it matters. It’s often the case that a hiring manager will throw out your resume after one grammar mistake. Correct grammar and punctuation show attention to detail, another soft skill that’s key to demonstrate.

8. Organizational skills

Yes, you've heard this one repeatedly. Why? Because it really does matter. No matter the field you're working in organizational skills will come in handy. Whether it means being able to file physical documents away neatly so that a document can be found in 2 months when it's needed, or having a clean work space, or being able to easily find the file stored on your computer without having to struggle to remember the exact file name; organization matters.

7. Flexibility

Assignments, deadlines, project requirements, can change at a moment's notice. Being able to prioritize and re-prioritize projects when things change is key in business today.

6. Punctuality/time management

While it seems like a no-brainier, punctuality is key. In the world of business, time is money. Not only that, but being on time is a sign of respect to anyone you're dealing with. You may be late for valid reasons, but constantly being late to meetings gives others the view that you hold your time as more valuable than others time. Punctuality at its heart is a sign of respect; plan and make sure you're prepared and ready to go.

5. Process improvement

The ability to see ways to improve the processes around the office and increase efficiency is one of the little things that is often overlooked. Being able to analyze processes and improve both quality and quantity of work not only saves your employer time it can also help with the bottom line.

4. Teamwork

A team player is more than just someone who's cooperative and able to work effectively in a team environment; teamwork also often includes displaying strong and effective leadership skills when necessary. In short: play well with others.

3. Creativity

Many will read this and overlook it, saying, 'well my industry isn't design or a creative field, don't need to highlight that'. Creativity today is helpful for everyone, not just those in the creative fields. Creativity is being able to think outside the box, it’s being able to find innovative and different ways to solve problems that may arise in the workplace, it's finding new ways to spice up any project or assignment. Innovation and creativity are the masters in a constantly shifting business world.

2. Motivation/work ethic

We all have days where we don't want to get up and go to work, I get it. However, if you are constantly lacking motivation you will be no more than a nuisance to your boss. Your boss has more important things to get done than to stand behind you and constantly push you to do your work. Showcasing positive attitude combined with initiative to seek out work will get you noticed for the right reasons.

1. Research/resourcefulness

Regardless of your job title or industry, there will come a time when you need to do a little research or don’t know the answer to a question. Research is going to mean something different depending on your job, but distilled, research is being able to effectively find the correct sources to find the answer to a question or problem. Separate fact from fiction, truth from meme - shut out any background noise and find the answer and identify reputable sources.

What's Next?

Unsure of how you stack up with these soft skills? Ask trusted friends, family, and past or current-colleagues for honest feedback. Be open and learn to take the criticism seriously, but not personally. Gather the feedback and identify your strengths and weaknesses, it never hurts to be self-aware in this way.

Now that you’ve seen what skills you should have and which you excel at, what next? How do you build soft skills that you don’t have or need to hone further?

  • Take a class online! Certain soft skills can be built and honed online. For example, need to boost your communication skills? There are plenty of online writing and public speaking courses to boost your confidence when it comes to communicating effectively.
  • Seek a mentor! Find a mentor, one either within your field or just a career mentor in general, is invaluable. Having someone who you respect that can offer experienced advice and suggestions can be extremely beneficial to your career. Find a mentor who not only has the technical skills your job requires, but someone whose personality and experience suggest a high level of competence all around.
  • Volunteer! Volunteering can be a great way to do some good and build soft skills at the same time. Find organizations that shares your values and see how you could be of service. Volunteering will give you a chance to build some crucial interpersonal soft skills and often you’ll gain valuable connections and great life advice along the way.