What are Soft Skills and why are they Important?

The debate over ‘soft skills’ and ‘hard skills’ has gone on for decades. Traditionally, employers have always looked for the latter, with the former acting as a supplement to a candidate’s profile.

However, in recent years there has been a growing significance when it comes to these so-called soft skills. Massive companies such as McDonald’s have publicly backed the importance of soft skills and state that by 2020, around half a million UK employees will be hindered by a lack of them on their CV.

What are they?

Hard skills are tangible and can be represented on a piece of paper, such as a qualification. In contrast, soft skills make up you as a person, helping you to stand out from the rest. They can include a number of different characteristics that help you to successfully interact and work with others. For instance:

  1. Communication skills – You might be an accomplished orator but are you good at listening to your peers? Conveying a message coherently is part and parcel of working life, and communication is a two-way street.
  2. Leadership qualities – Whilst excellent in your own role, are you proficient at inspiring and developing your staff? Helping your team in order to collectively move forward is vital for any business.
  3. Self-motivation – Be optimistic and set yourself daily objectives. If you remain enthusiastic, the motivation will come naturally.
  4. Time management – An employer won’t see any indication of poor time management on your glowing CV. However, if you arrive late to work, it won’t go unnoticed.
  5. Creativity – This often sets an individual aside from their colleagues. The ability to think outside the box and plan innovatively will serve you well in the workplace. Considering that some studies suggest 75% of people don’t live up to their creative potential, this so-called ‘soft’ skill will help you to get your foot in the door.

How important are they?

It’s almost impossible to measure the importance of soft skills, but there has never been a time when they have been more useful. In the 21st century, modern companies are looking to be more revolutionary and dynamic, which means they are searching for people who not only have the relevant qualifications, but can also bring innovation into a progressive working environment.

Deloitte’s 2016 Global Human Capital Trends survey reported that 92% of its respondents consider soft skills to be a critical priority. Companies are increasingly searching for people who have the above qualities and perception is everything. If you walk through an employer’s door with confidence and speak with clarity, half the battle has already been won.

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