Soft skills are all too often overlooked when people consider how to upskill. People first think about what certifications they need to earn, what courses to take, what new technology to learn… But soft skills can be just as important for your career and when searching for a new job.
In fact, a LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends report found that 92% of talent professionals reported that soft skills are equally or more important to hire for than hard skills. And that 89% of the situations when a new hire doesn’t work out in a new role, it’s because the employee lacked the soft skills that they needed.
These stats however do cover a huge variety of industries. And for example, in the IT industry, it’s often hard or technical skills that are pivotal for your career. But soft skills still shouldn’t be overlooked, even if you think they’re not as necessary for you. Here’s why.
What are Soft Skills?
But before we get stuck in, what exactly are soft skills?
Soft skills are non-technical skills that make you more productive in your work, in your career, and in your wider life. They cover a huge range of skills from communication and people skills, personal and work ethics, as well as general attitudes and character traits. Soft skills are transferable, and can be used in any job in any industry. Although not every job necessitates these soft skills of course.
For example, a Network Engineer needs many technical skills covering X X and X. But Network Engineers also need communications skills, to be able to communicate technical jargon into easy to understand terms for people who may have little-to-no technical understanding. And to progress further into their career they’ll need leadership skills.
And if this Network Engineer decides to make a lateral career move and explore a different area of IT, their leadership, communication and client management skills will be transferable and still attractive to a potential employer.
Why are Soft Skills Important?
Soft skills are an essential part of improving your performance in your everyday job. They benefit you, your team, and your employer: And your employer recognises how important these are, which is why they are so prioritised and sought-after. Which can help set you apart from your competitors when searching for your next job.
And as we mentioned earlier, soft skills can be essential in progressing in your career. When you progress in your career to a more strategy or management focused position, you likely move away from being hands-on with the technical aspects of your job.
It’s important to really consider the soft skills that you use in your job and that will help you reach the next stage in your career, and include these on your CV/ resume! Which will also help you to understand any areas where you may need to learn new soft skills, such as leadership or team management.
What are Soft Skills and Hard Skills: What’s the Difference?
Both soft skills and hard skills are an essential part of your professional development and your career. Developing your skills in one but not the other (despite being practically impossible), would actively hinder your career and leave yourself unsuitable for almost every job and career.
But what are the actual differences between hard skills and soft skills?
Hard Skills or ‘Technical Skills’ are skills gained through education, training, work experience or through earning certifications. They are focused on the technical ability to do a task, such as being able to use a piece of software or hardware. Because you can earn these through education or training, they are often more measurable and definable.
Examples of Hard Skills: Coding, cable installing, driving, app development, Microsoft office.
Soft Skills meanwhile, are non-technical skills that cover social skills, character skills and professional workplace skills. These skills are earned through life, through work experience, or sometimes even something you are just born with.
Examples of soft skills: Communication, leadership, decision-making, people management, attention-to-detail.
The 10 Most Important Soft Skills For Your Career in 2023
This list is by no means definitive, but we work with hundreds of businesses here at Dynamic. And these are the 10 most requested soft skills that we’ve seen so far in 2023.
- Client management.
- Work ethic.
- Time and project management.
- Critical thinking.
- Problem solving.
Leadership skills are in high-demand: Especially at higher levels where businesses need someone who can not only manage a team effectively, but can also be an inspiring leader.
And people with leadership skills often lead by example, showing more initiative that helps them and the company prosper.
Leadership and Management skills are often confused, but not always interchangeable. Have a look here at our guide on the difference.
Communication is an almost universally vital soft skill for your career. At some point you will have to work with colleagues, with customers or clients, or work with your manager. And communication is key.
Being an effective communicator is especially key working in industries like the IT industry, where you need to be able to communicate complex and technical terms into something that people with no technical understanding can understand.
Working as a member of a cohesive team is essential to almost every job. And is a highly sought after soft skill for roles that are project work heavy, where you will regularly need to work as a team.
This can include skills from collaboration and coordination to conflict management and resolution.
In opposition to this, is the ability to work independently and with autonomy. Autonomy is a great soft skill to have, as managers love someone who can work independently without the need for constant oversight.
Being able to get on with the work and think of solutions for problems with autonomy is every manager’s dream.
As you progress in your career or as you stay in a position, your role will change over time. New responsibilities will be introduced, and a company’s needs change. Which is why adaptability is a great soft skill to have.
Businesses are always on the lookout for someone who will be excited to tackle new challenges, instead of hiring employees who are stuck in their ways and don’t want to learn new things.
6. Client Management
If you’re in a career or industry which works with client management skills become more important for you the further you progress in your career.
Because employees who have experience working with clients directly are essential to the operation of business, making it a skill that only increases in value and worth.
Client management skills include communication, negotiation, mediation and active listening, to name a few.
7. Work Ethic
Work ethic is the approach you take to tour work. It’s the drive to put in the work and achieve as a habit, without the need for a reward or threat of punishment. It’s turning up everyday and getting the job done. And it’s a soft skill that every employer wants to see.
8. Time and Project Management
Time and project management are two of the most crucial skills for someone in a project management position (unsurprisingly). And even outside of this position, they are great skills to have that show your autonomy, and self-management.
9. Critical Thinking
Critical thinking is a great skill to have in any career. The ability to analyse issues and data, and to use rational thought based on evidence can be essential in a role where problem solving and troubleshooting is a core component. So anything consultancy, design, engineering, or help-desk related, (which is a large part of the network and infrastructure industry) requires strong critical thinking.
Strong critical thinking helps to raise questions and problems, analyse information, think objectively and with an open mind, and to communicate solutions to complex problems.
10. Problem Solving
While it would be nice if they did, projects and tasks don’t always go to plan. And when they don’t go to plan, employers want someone who is cool under pressure who can think of solutions. So being able to demonstrate that problem solving is one of your soft skills is very desirable.
How To Include Soft Skills on Your CV and Boost Your Career
Like all skills and experience, it’s important to include them on your CV. As a part of putting your best foot forward, you want to show any future employers the soft skills they want to see, and why you’re such a great candidate for the role.
And to make it as clear as possible, you may want to give them their own separate section in your CV, that looks a little something like this:
Look at the Job Advert and Tailor Your Soft Skills to it
Your CV only has a finite amount of space. And while you could list all the soft skills you possess, similar to the hard skills section, it’s most important to focus on the soft skills that are most important to the position you’re applying for.
For example, ‘Team and People Management’ is a fantastic soft skill to have: If you’re applying for a role where you’ll be managing a team. If you’re not, then you may be better off using that space to list a more relevant soft skill…
While that’s what not to do, let’s look at how you can identify which soft skills a job advertisement is looking for. Here’s an example for a Helpdesk Engineer position.
The responsibilities and experience required that we’ve highlighted tell us what soft skills the employer is looking for.
- Teamwork and collaboration.
- Critical thinking.
- Work ethic.
- Listening skills.
These above are just an example, and the soft skills you list could be much more exhaustive. But these are probably among the most important for this help desk role.
Using Past Experience To Show Your Soft Skills
You could list all the soft skills (and hard skills) in the world on your CV: But the soft skills you claim to have should be evidenced in your ‘Previous Experience’ section, where you show the hiring manager how you’ve used these soft skills in a role before.
Continuing with the example from before, let’s write an example of some previous work experience for someone applying for the Helpdesk Engineer role. The soft skills again are:
- Teamwork and collaboration.
- Critical thinking.
- Work ethic.
- Listening skills.
And an example of previous work experience that hires the soft skills for someone in this role could look like:
Provided excellent levels of client and customer service as a Helpdesk Intern, working with both autonomy and as part of a team to win the company award for Helpdesk Team with the highest levels of tickets resolved without the need for escalation.
This example shows that the applicant has skills in: communication, teamwork and collaboration and work ethic.
Frequently Asked Questions About Soft Skills
Let’s have a look at some of the remaining questions about soft skills, your career, and getting your next job that you might have.
How can I improve my soft skills?
There are plenty of ways to go out and learn new soft skills that can benefit your career. If you’re looking to move into a leadership or management role, then taking courses or training on how to be a leader is a great way to demonstrate how you’re actively aiming to better yourself.
But a lot of soft skills are learned through life and experience. So it can be necessary to go out and work on yourself with some self development.
Are soft skills really that important for your career?
In short, yes. Soft skills are just as important as hard skills in a lot of jobs and careers. Especially as you progress in your career.
When just starting out, it’s important that you learn the hard skills. Because early in your career you’ll be hands on, doing the grunt work, out in the field.
But as you progress and become more senior, your responsibilities will move into strategy, team and project management, and client management. And while the knowledge of these hard skills is still important, soft skills become more and more necessary and profitable.
Which soft skills should I include on my CV?
The soft skills you include on your CV or resume should hit 3 main areas:
- You should actually possess the soft skills you claim to. We always advise against lying on your CV, because chances are you will eventually be found out and the consequences just aren’t worth the risk.
- They should match the job advert. If the job advert asks for a soft skill that you have, then your CV should match it. It shows that you’ve at minimum read and understood the job advert, and at best shows you’re the right person for the role.
- They should match your understanding of the job role. Sometimes a job advert may not list the need for a certain soft skill. But if you know that it’s needed for the position or is at least desirable because you know what the job will entail, then include it! It shows that you understand the work you’ll be doing, and know what’s important/
How many soft skills should I put on my CV?
You should put as many soft skills on your CV as you need to. Which sounds vague and unhelpful, we know. But it is also partially the truth. Because you should only include relevant soft skills for the role and that match the job advert.
Your CV should contain no more than 10 soft skills. Because this looks like you’re just trying to list every soft skill that you think they may want to see, and don’t actually understand what they’re asking for.
Meanwhile, you should aim to have at least 5 soft skills on your CV as that will likely be the minimum amount of soft skills you need for the role.
For more information on how to write a CV that helps secure your next role, have a look at our complete guide here on writing a CV for the IT industry. Or if you’re ready to start your job search, then look at our open vacancies here and take the next step in your career.