9 Soft Skills You Need for Your Career

by Amy Steinberg Published Oct 9, 2018 Last updated Oct 9, 2018

Most people are adept with their hard skills: talents and abilities that are usually verifiable by a certification or degree that we have worked to obtain and put in our professional repertoire. Hard skills are those that we have training in and specialize in such as data analysis, computing, or mathematics.

Nowadays, however, there are additional skills that are not quite so measurable but that have become a recognized, integral part of professional success. Unlike their counterparts, soft skills cannot be exactly measured and are variable from one person to the next.

Put simply, hard skills are what you do; soft skills are how you do them and experts suggest success in life depends on personality traits that are not well captured by measures of cognition.

Soft skills include things that affect your hard skills like personality traits (ie. patience, understanding, flexibility), personal preferences, and goals, (among other things) and over half of employers surveyed by LinkedIn revealed these skills are more important than hard skills.

For example, if you are more of a patient and understanding person (soft skills), chances are your skills around organization (hard skill) are more successful than those with less patience. Or if you’re fluent in a foreign language and excellent at communication, both of these aspects of your professional life are enhanced. As you can see, strong soft skills create stronger hard skills.

Being adept at things like facts, figures, and logic are not the only keys to success, according to research. In fact, evidence suggests soft skills are predictors of “meaningful life outcomes,” including educational attainment and labor market success.

So, what are some important soft skills that professionals should aspire to strengthen? Here are 10 vital soft skills most sought after by employers:

  • Conscientiousness

People who have higher levels of conscientiousness feel a sense of social responsibility not just for their organizations, but for their friends, families, neighborhoods, coworkers, and the world at large. Conscientious people are more organized, responsible, authentic, and hardworking.

  • Perseverance

The ability to have a never-say-die attitude and push yourself, your teams, and your organization as a whole towards a bigger picture achievement, is a soft skill that some people are inherently gifted with.

  • Sociability

While it was once frowned upon to mingle with coworkers, now it is an important part of company culture. A team that is on the same page heads towards the same goals. Being sociable means being willing to step outside of your comfort zone and interact with others. One way to experiment with new techniques is to practice your body language (another soft skill highly sought after by employers).

  • Curiosity 

With a penchant for curiosity, your natural knowledge base will undoubtedly expand. Curious people are always seeking new information because they enjoy learning new things, so it stands to reason that allowing yourself to be more curious about things, enhances your wheelhouse of hard skills.

  • Creativity

Creativity is not for everyone but everyone has it. The key is to find ways you can think differently, outside of the box. Creativity stems from viewing things from different angles and coming up with ideas that you may never otherwise have thought of. In addition, curious people are open to new experiences and knowledge which gives them much richer lives, both personally and professionally. Creative people are by nature, quite good at problem-solving and conflict resolution – two additional important soft skills.

  • Adaptability

Naturally, things can change on a dime and our careers are no different. A small example might be when a colleague has to take a day off unexpectedly and you may need to adapt your schedule to accommodate getting their work done. A professional with a high level of adaptability will see no challenge in this and in fact, might actually find it to be a rewarding challenge.

  • Communication

At the pinnacle of success is communication. Nothing happens in the business world without communication so being able to master good communication skills is a soft skill every professional needs. It’s important to know that communication is more than simply knowing how to orate. Communication involves both give and take – listening and speaking. Further, having an understanding of the best methods to communicate which things helps to elevate your communication skills. In today’s technological world, there are dozens of ways in which we can get our messages across and while email or text may be ideal for some communications, others might be best done in person, face-to-face.

  • Leadership

Sometimes we don’t even realize we are leaders until we take the lead, but many feel uncomfortable doing so. But everyone has some level of leadership skills within them. Leaders are not just those who push for change; leaders are also those who recognize talent and leadership in others so when you see someone who is a great performer, be willing to give them the recognition you feel they deserve.

  • Time Management

Have you ever watched with envy, someone whose hectic schedule never got them frazzled and they always seem to have the time to get their work done? Those individuals are great at managing their time. Every human being has just 100 percent to give so those who are trying to give 120%, are depleting the next day’s energy and time. If you find yourself often short of time or running late, consider adopting a personal policy that allows you some margin around your daily tasks in the event of unexpected delays. Be realistic about the things you can get done today, and the things that can wait a day, a week, or longer.

Today’s workforce is more civic-minded than ever in history which means companies are increasingly interested in the development and maintenance of their employees’ overall well-being.