What Are Soft Skills and Why Do They Matter?

When it comes to job searching, most of the attention is put on the candidate’s skills. One thing that does not get mentioned very often is that there are two main types of valuable skills: hard skills and soft skills. Both types are important to focus on and will play a big role in getting the job you really want.

Hard skills, which are also often referred to as ‘technical skills’, consist of things you may have learned through a course, during job training, or as part of your education. Examples of hard skills include academic qualifications, industry certifications, and foreign language abilities. More specifically, things like having a working understanding of SEO, programming languages, or proofreading are also considered hard skills.

On the other hand, soft skills are personal attributes that you may have developed over the years. These can include being good at teamwork, resolving conflict, or adaptability.

“Soft skills are a combination of people skills, social skills, communication skills, character or personality traits, attitudes, mindsets, career attributes, social intelligence and emotional intelligence quotients, among others, that enable people to navigate their environment, work well with others, perform well, and achieve their goals with complementing hard skills.” [Source]

Generally speaking, soft skills are a lot more difficult to prove because you do not usually get a certificate to confirm you are good at leadership or are a fantastic problem solver. Therefore, it’s important to look back over your professional experience to find examples of soft skills you can link back to. We recommend using the STAR method mentioned in our previous blog to expertly show how you have learnt and used your soft skills in the past.

Further examples of soft skills:

  • Being hardworking
  • Being organised & attention to detail
  • Project management
  • Interpersonal communication
  • Time management
  • Patience

 

How to present your soft skills on a CV or in a cover letter

As mentioned earlier, soft skills can be tricky to prove. The best way to do it is to provide practical examples, rather than just listing all the skills on your job application. You want to be able to demonstrate how you have used your soft skills in the past, and what you achieved or resolved as a result. While it may be acceptable to list soft skills on a CV/resumé, when it comes to cover letters, that is where you need to explain your soft skills. Think of an example that let you use a particular skill, then use the STAR method to describe the steps you took.

 

Why soft skills matter

Of course, showing that you have a set of hard skills is very appealing to employers. However, soft skills are incredibly important too, because they show what kind of an employee you will be, and how you may fit in the new job.

Soft skills can reveal a lot about a person’s mindset, about their work ethic, and whether they are easy to work with, so it is crucial to include a few examples when applying for jobs. So don’t forget to focus on your soft skills when updating your CV or writing a cover letter – they are important and should not be left out!

 

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