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Business

Understanding Soft Skills: How Can Soft Skills Help You Land a Job?

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Feb 20, 2020 • 3 min read

There are two types of skills that hiring managers look for in job interviews with potential new hires: soft skills and hard skills. Hard skills are technical skills that have to be learned through external training and are usually job-specific. Soft skills cover personality-based traits that are key aspects of what makes someone a good fit for a given role and a productive coworker in a group work environment.

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What Are Soft Skills?

Soft skills generally fall into the category of interpersonal skills and inner values. Unlike hard skills, soft skills are generally not learned in professional training programs and are usually innate or gained through personal development. A person with strong soft skills usually has great communication skills or a strong work ethic. When employers talk about a “team player,” they’re usually referring to someone whose soft skills stand out. These people usually possess strong communication abilities and leadership skills. Key soft skills generally work in tandem with a strong set of hard skills. If someone can complement their people skills and problem-solving abilities with specific technical abilities and other hard skills, they present a very attractive hire when they’re on the job market.

4 Reasons Soft Skills Are Important

The importance of soft skills cannot be overstated when it comes to a candidate’s employability. Employers look at soft skills as good prognosticators for a prospective employee’s future growth and potential for career success. Highlighting a list of soft skills in a cover letter or the skills section of your resume can separate you from other potential hires and make your job search that much easier. Reasons that soft skills are important to employers include:

  1. Soft skills demonstrate core strength. Possessing key soft skills shows that a person’s inner values and moral compass are strong. Though soft skills are harder to demonstrate than hard skills, if you can show in your interview or cover letter that you possess important soft skills and personal attributes, employers are likely to view you as fundamentally solid and dependable.
  2. Soft skills are harder to teach. Personality traits like listening skills and decision-making skills are not transferable skills in the same way that many technical abilities are. Employers value someone with strong communication skills and other soft skills because those skills are much harder to teach.
  3. Soft skills make hard skills easier to attain. Having important soft skills generally bodes well for an employee’s ability to learn and develop a set of job-specific hard skills. Specific skills like good verbal communication and dependability mean that someone is well equipped to be receptive to hard skill training and likely grow quickly within a job.
  4. Soft skills can make up for a lack of experience. If you are looking for a new job but lack relevant experience, showing an employer that you possess strong soft skills can quell any doubts they might have about you. Soft skills can also be key differentiators for two applicants with similar credentials.
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14 Examples of Soft Skills

Whether or not soft skills are listed in a job description, chances are an employer is looking for someone with a strong set of soft skills. Most verbal communication and social skills that apply in the workplace fall under the umbrella of soft skills. Some examples of soft skills include:

  1. Critical thinking
  2. Dependability
  3. Positive attitude
  4. Problem-solving skills
  5. Strong work ethic
  6. Listening skills
  7. Common sense
  8. Creative thinking
  9. Effective communication
  10. Strong leadership
  11. Positivity
  12. Emotional intelligence
  13. Conflict resolution
  14. Time management

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