What Are Soft Skills? (With 20+ Explained Examples)

In General by Think Student EditorLeave a Comment

As individuals apply for jobs for the first time, it soon becomes apparent that employers are now not only looking for academic qualifications. In addition to any formal achievements you may have, employers also now look for soft skills! This is because it shows them that not only do you have the knowledge to work for them but you also have key traits that will make you a successful employee. Don’t worry if you don’t understand what soft skills are – you probably possess some of them already, without even knowing!

Put simply, soft skills are characteristics or traits that help individuals succeed in the workplace. This can include teamwork, critical thinking, and stress management skills. Soft skills like these are not specific to any job and are not generally taught. They are different to academic qualifications, however can be seen as just as valuable, depending on the job.

If you want to find out more about soft skills and see how they can help you excel in the workplace, check out the rest of this article.

What are some examples of soft skills?

Most individuals will have some soft skills already. However, only with more experience and more exposure to the world will your repertoire of soft skills develop. If you want to discover what some key soft skills are and an explanation of why these are crucial to the workplace, check out the list below:

1. Teamwork

In a workplace or school environment, it can be easy for individuals to become competitive and try to beat everybody around them. A little competition is good, however it shouldn’t overshadow the need for teamwork!

If you work as a team with others, you may find that you reach goals faster and could even learn from other people! Teamwork can take on many forms in the workplace, such as contributing to decisions and supporting your colleagues when they are struggling.

2. Time management

Most individuals will have developed this skill by the time they finish high school! Time management can prevent individuals from getting stressed about deadlines and tasks, as they would have given themselves plenty of time to prepare.

In the workplace, managing your time can also make you seem more reliable and efficient to employers. If you want some tips on how to manage your time in the workplace, check out this article from Indeed.

3. Problem solving

Regardless of your career choice, you will probably experience some curve balls thrown at you during your day-to-day job! This is completely normal and things are bound to go wrong.

However, being able to problem solve means that you would have the ability to navigate the problem and think of alternative solutions. This skill involves using your initiative and will definitely help you stand out to employers.

4. Organisation

Being organised means that you are efficient and use your time effectively when at work. This is a valuable skill to have, as employers don’t want to see you leaving things to the last minute.

Employers look for individuals who are organised, as it often means that they are more productive. If you want some tips on how to become more organised, check out this article from Verywell mind.

5. Decision making

Let’s be honest, we all know that one individual who can never seem to make a decision. It might even be you! This is fine when you are struggling to decide between a chocolate or custard doughnut, however in the workplace, making decisions promptly is essential.

This is because delaying decisions may have far reaching consequences! Therefore, when you are confronted with a problem, good decision-making skills are key and this can also make you seem more trust-worthy to employers.

6. Critical thinking

Critical thinking is slightly different to problem solving, as it involves the ability to analyse facts and use your own insights to make decisions. It involves considering all possible outcomes when making a decision and could also include analysing data and research.

If you are unsure of how to improve your critical thinking skills, check out this article from Forbes for some tips.

7. Adaptability

Our world is ever changing and as a result, more often than not, we are introduced to more new technology and new ways of doing things. Being able to adapt to new circumstances is a great quality to have, as it allows you to stay ahead and shows your employers that you are flexible.

Adaptability is also important for when you encounter new challenges, as you are more likely to bounce back after setbacks.

8. Creativity

This skill is essential for employees to come up with new ideas and think outside of the box when working on projects or business deals. However, creativity is also an important skill for decision making.

This is because it allows individuals to look at a problem from different angles and weigh up all of the different outcomes.

9. Leadership

Even if you don’t have a leadership role, leadership skills can still be seen as important! This is because even if you are working in a team, having leadership skills means that you may be able to strategize, by giving each team member the best work for them.

You could also inspire your colleagues by coaching and supporting them, allowing them to become the best possible versions of themselves.

10. Resourcefulness

Put simply, resourcefulness is the ability to work smarter – not harder! It means that you use the resources that you have available to you to succeed and solve problems.

This may involve you producing creative solutions, as you become proactive to overcome any challenges. Being resourceful can also help individuals to stay motivated when overcoming challenges.

If you want to discover what resourcefulness means in more detail and find out why it is important, check out this article from Indeed.

11. Stress management

Being able to manage your stress is a key skill in any workplace. After all, you don’t want to be so overcome with stress that you can’t do any work! This could then escalate even further, resulting in you stressing out your other colleagues.

Instead, maintaining a positive attitude can help boost morale. Managing stress can also show employers that you may be suited to roles with more responsibility.

However, it is true that this is easier said than done! If you find that you are having trouble managing stress at work, check out this article from Mind for some tips on how to deal with stress.

12. Communication

Communication refers to how you show your thoughts and express your ideas to other. It’s easy to say that if there was no communication in the workplace, everything would soon go wrong!

Communication is essential to make sure that everyone is on the same page and that if any problems arise, these can be brought up and spoken about. Not only is it essential for you to be a good communicator, it is also imperative that you are a good listener and take into account what each person is saying.

13. Openness to criticism

Being criticised can be hard. After all, everyone wants to be praised, ideally all the time! However, everyone is bound to make mistakes and that is just a part of life.

Consequently, being open to constructive criticism is important as it allows you to learn from your mistakes and improve next time. If you want to learn how to deal with criticism at work in a noble manner, check out this article from Indeed.

14. Work ethic

Having a good work ethic is crucial to being a good employee. This is because a good work ethic shows that you are committed to the company you are working for and dedicated to work your best.

As a result, your employers will probably trust you more, perhaps even giving you more responsibilities. Having a good work ethic means that you are seen as reliable and take accountability for your actions.

If you want to discover more about what work ethic is and why it is important, check out this article from Indeed.

15. Conflict management

You are bound to experience conflicts wherever you go. However, how you react to conflicts is what really matters.

If you maintain composure in the workplace during conflicts or perhaps even excuse yourself to regulate your emotions, your employers will be thankful. This is because it shows that you are professional and can prevent making irrational decisions.

16. Positive attitude

Being optimistic when working will certainly make you stand out to your employer! After all, companies don’t want to employ individuals who will sit miserably at a desk all day.

They want to see passion and individuals that will boost morale! This doesn’t mean that you have to smile like a clown all day. It just means that you do your job with a can-do attitude, without always focusing on the negatives.

17. Dependability

Being dependable means that employers believe they can count on you to get work done. This could involve you always producing high quality work, being punctual and helping others when you can.

You will also be seen as dependable if you never miss deadlines and can communicate effectively. Therefore, this soft skill combines many different soft skills together. Being dependable could also lead to your employers giving you more responsibilities!

18. Persistence

If you gave up as soon as a challenge is thrown at you, you probably wouldn’t make a very good employee! Having persistence means that you never give up and are determined to try your best.

This means that employers can count on you, as they know that you are committed to your work. If you struggle with being persistent, check out this article from Zippia for tips on how to improve.

19. Open mindedness

If you are narrow minded, this means that you are unlikely to listen to other people’s views and believe that your way is always best. This can cause problems because it may turn out that maybe your way isn’t the best way!

Therefore, being open minded means that you are open to hearing other people’s views and ideas and don’t mind trying these out. This is a great skill to have, as it allows you to collaborate more with your colleagues and could potentially help the company grow.

20. Flexibility

If you are one of those people that must rigidly stick to a schedule and to do lists, this soft skill may be tough for you. Believe me – I am one of those people!

However, when you are at work, you need to be prepared to be flexible, as plans can change and you may be confronted with a range of different challenges. Flexibility allows individuals to deal with unexpected circumstances and adapt to new changes easily.

If you want to discover more about flexibility in the workplace, check out this article from Indeed.

21. Integrity

Having integrity means that you are honest and hold yourself accountable in your work. It means that you follow moral codes and your employer can trust you to work on important aspects of your job.

Integrity actually involves a range of soft skills for it to be achieved. For example, managing conflicts and setting a positive example. It is most important for leadership roles.

If you want to discover more about integrity and how to master it, check out this article from Indeed.

How many soft skills are there?

There is not an exact number of soft skills out in the world. After all, it is not the case of writing a list of soft skills and ticking them off as you acquire them!

No, there are many different soft skills out there and you will develop different ones depending on your experiences and character. If you want to find out even more about what soft skills are and discover more examples, check out this article from Indeed.

Why are soft skills important?

Soft skills are important for work because they can encourage employers to hire you or give you more responsibilities. Having a range of soft skills will make you a trustworthy employee and hopefully make the company you work for grow!

You can discover more about why soft skills are important if you check out this article from Indeed. Writing about your soft skills on your CV will definitely be impressive to employers! However, if you are currently a student and are struggling to get a job still, check out this article from Think Student for some tips.

Soft skills are not only important for the workplace. Developing these skills can help you grow as a person, possibly even contributing to how you function in relationships and family life.

For example, being more open minded will make you a better listener. Also, becoming more reliable means that family members may trust themselves to depend on you more. Therefore, soft skills are not only for the workplace.

What are the essential soft skills?

All soft skills are important. However, the main ones that are required by all jobs are listed on this article from Indeed. This list includes communication, as a workplace wouldn’t be able to function without individuals collaborating!

It also includes teamwork, as working with other people can increase productivity and show that you are easy to get along with. Another important soft skill is problem solving, as employees are exposed to many challenges during their career.

However, how they deal with these challenges really shows their true characters.

How do you measure soft skills?

Measuring soft skills is a difficult process, as it can be seen as quite subjective. However, during interviews, employees may ask you to participate in role play activities, to see how you would act in certain situations. This could potentially measure your soft skills.

Personally, I believe that soft skills shouldn’t be forced to be objectively measured, as they are personal to each individual. You can measure your personal soft skills yourself by reviewing how far you have matured and grown as a person by looking back at past experiences.

Your soft skills increase as you gain more experience and they are personal to each individual. Therefore, attempting to measure them could be seen as pointless. If you want to gain more work experience to acquire more soft skills, check out this article from Think Student for some tips!

What is the difference between soft skills and hard skills?

Hard skills describe knowledge that has been acquired through training and education. For example, you may have a degree or a certificate in a course that you have completed. Hard skills can be specific to the career you are going in to.

In comparison, soft skills are not specific to any career, as they are valued in all types of job roles. Soft skills are difficult to teach, unlike hard skills, as they mostly arise due to experience.

It can also be difficult to measure soft skills, as individuals don’t receive formal qualifications once they have acquired them. If you want to find out more about the difference between soft and hard skills, check out this article from Indeed.

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