What Are Soft Skills & Why Are They Important at Work

two professionals exemplifying essential soft skills during an interview

Whether you are looking to find a new job or perform better and move up in your current position, you’re going to need soft skills.  

What Are Soft Skills?

“Soft skills” are personal habits or traits that influence how a person works and interacts with others in the workplace. Soft skills refer to:  

  • Attitude
  • Leadership
  • Communication 
  • Teamwork
  • Problem Solving 
  • Adaptability 
  • Creativity 
  • Dependability 
  • Critical Observation 
  • Conflict Resolution 
  • Emotional Intelligence 
  • Interpersonal Skills 
  • Time Management 

Soft skills are the opposite of “hard skills,” which refer to technical knowledge or training. Hard skills — such as website programming, Adobe expertise, bookkeeping, etc. — refer to specific and sometimes measurable abilities that have been gained through traditional means of experience and education. 


Hard skills often refer to what you do at work whereas soft skills refer to how you work. Hard skills show that you are capable of doing a job. Soft skills show that you are capable of doing a job well. 


What Is the Importance of Soft Skills? 

When seeking a new job or career change, many people focus heavily on hard skills. They work on gaining new technical experience or training, but soft skills are just as important as hard skills. 

Whether you are trying to find a new job, change careers, or grow in your field, soft skills can help. 


Soft skills are in demand. 

93% of employers surveyed in a study conducted by Wonderlic said that soft skills were essential or very important when making hiring decisions. Employers see the value in soft skills and are actively seeking employees who have them. 

To catch the attention of hiring managers, make your resume stand out by highlighting soft skills as well as hard skills. 


Soft skills can help you stand out from others who have similar hard skills. 

If you and another candidate have the exact same list of hard skills, hiring managers will make a decision based on factors outside of experience and training. In many cases, the deciding factor will be related to soft skills, and the hiring manager will hire the candidate with more soft skills. 


Soft skills can help you market yourself if you have fewer hard skills. 

Job seekers with a short list of hard skills may still be able to get the job by focusing on their soft skills. In LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends 2019, 92% of talent professionals said soft skills matter as much or more than hard skills. Many hiring managers are willing to find great candidates that have a long list of soft skills and train them on the hard skills they need.  


Soft skills can help you keep your job. 

Soft skills can help job seekers land a job — and keep it. SHRP reports that 46% of new employees fail within 18 months and that 89% fail because of a lack of soft skills. A lack of soft skills is often the reason that employees fail to perform at work. Technical skills can be taught. It’s the strong soft-skill foundation that can lead to lasting success. 


How Can You Improve Soft Skills?

As the value of soft skills rises, it’s becoming more and more important to hone your interpersonal skills and personal habits. 

Focus on enhancing your soft skills to find more success in your job hunt and at work.

  • Expand your knowledge and understanding of soft skills through reading and training.
  • Reflect on past work experiences and how you could improve. 
  • Find a mentor to help you identify gaps in your soft skills. 
  • Observe others who have strong soft skills. 
  • Ask for and be open to feedback.
  • Engage in activities that help you practice soft skills (such as simulations and trainings). 

Now that you know what soft skills are and how they can help you advance in the workplace, start improving them. 


Get the skills employers want and need by contacting CareerSource Central Florida. We offer coaching, training, and workshops to help careers seekers get the in-demand skills and education they need to grow their careers. 

Learn more about our services and request an appointment today


Whether you are looking to find a new job or perform better and move up in your current position, you’re going to need soft skills.