What are soft skills and why you need them

Published on LinkedIn by Irena Lovrenčič Držanič Technical Associate (Institute of Media Communications - UM).

What are soft skills and why you need them

Soft skills, sometimes called transferable skills, are interpersonal skills that are intangible and do not require certification like hard skills. It is much more difficult to define and develop soft than hard skills. Everyone already has some level of soft skills that were developed through life in school and work.

Due to their importance, soft skills are sometimes called building blocks of your career. Their main characteristic is that these skills are less specialized in specific vocations, meaning they can be utilized in different work environments. Soft skills are also personality driven.

Since soft skills are transferable between various areas, they can be developed throughout a career. Mastering of these skills is also a long-term process.

Employers look for candidates with a good set of soft skills to advance their business and improve work environment.

Why soft skills are important

Soft skills make you more employable. A lack of soft skills can limit your potential as you might not be as successful at job interviews as candidates with better soft skills. The difference between adequate and ideal candidate can be in the level of soft skills.

You will get along with coworkers. Employees with better soft skills are preferable by employers as they can interact with others easier, meaning they are better team workers. Additionally, work environments are healthier when employees have better soft skills.

High levels of soft skills can compensate for the lack of hard (technical) skills. Minor lack of hard skills can be compensated with a willingness to learn, motivation, adaptability and teamwork skills.

How to present soft skills in the job application

Level of soft skills cannot be proved with certification the same way as hard skills. Due to this, claims on which soft skills you excel at can only be reinforced with examples. For example, to show your teamwork skills tell the potential employer that you led a group of coworkers at a recent project and that you attended a seminar on teamwork skills.

Some soft skills, such as professionalism should not be listed in your job application but rather presented at the meeting. Always behave as a professional and prepare for the job interview.

If you would like to learn more about the connection between soft skills and employability, we highly recommend the following book:

Rao, M. S. (2010). Soft Skills-Enhancing Employability: Connecting Campus with Corporate. IK International Pvt Ltd.

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