Step aside, hard skills! Soft skills are pulling ahead in importance for employers. By 2030, two-thirds of all jobs created will be strongly reliant on soft skills, according to Deloitte. We’ve been conditioned that our hard skills – job-specific abilities that we learn through educational programs – are the most valuable thing we bring the table when looking for a new job. But more and more, hiring managers are recognizing the importance of soft skills – aka “people skills”. Soft skills are immensely important to a healthy, productive work environment. So in 2020 (and beyond!) there are specific soft skills employers are looking for new employees to bring to the table.
Soft skills are much harder to reliably measure. With hard skills, you can give direct knowledge tests for people to prove how thorough their understanding is. But the strength of someone’s soft skills can be a lot harder to quantify. You can put down “strong communication skills” on your resume, but there’s no way to tell if it’s true or not until you actually connect with the hiring manager.
Fortunately, there are still plenty of opportunities to highlight your soft skills when you’re job searching. Let’s explore the top 10 soft skills employers are looking for and how to show them off.
1. Communication Skills
Let’s start with the obvious. Communication skills typically are the first thing people thing of when discussing soft skills. They represent your ability to work well with others and function as part of a team. The focus on communication skills is why the “team player” trope exists for resumes. Of course companies want “team players” – you need to be one in order to achieve the collective goals of the company. Instead of propping yourself up with an old cliché, prove your communication skills throughout the interview process. Start with a strong cover letter that explains why you’re a great fit, then reiterate that during the phone screen and interview. Show up on time, follow directions, and answer questions without beating around the bush. Following up with a thank you note afterwards is the perfect way to seal the deal.
2. Problem Solving
Every company benefits by having a team of problem solvers – regardless of the job they work. And every job will present problems and challenges (it probably wouldn’t be a job if it didn’t!). Effective problem solving is a multi-step process. It starts by identifying and defining the problem, followed by outlining solutions. Finally, you have to faithfully implement those solutions and confirm that the problem has been fixed. During your interview, share a time when you were a key player in overcoming a professional challenge.
3. Critical Thinking
Remember when you were a kid and your parents would hit you with a big ol’ “WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?” Well, when you were younger, you had an excuse – your critical thinking skills were still developing. But now that you’re an adult (ew), your ability to consider the consequences the correct course of action should have solidified. Critical thinking represents your ability to apply information to the appropriate context and determine how to best drive desired results. Companies are eager to hire people with strong critical thinking skills because they propel their businesses further. Because critical thinking is so valuable, employers frequently measure it during the job application process using aptitude tests. JobFlare lets you show off your critical thinking skills from the start with scientifically validated brain games that are just as accurate as these tests.
4. Time Management
Managers can help set priorities, but it’s up to you to figure out how to best spend your time. Time management is an immensely valuable soft skill because it improves productivity and makes sure everything gets done when it needs to. Meeting deadlines is paramount to keeping customers happy and growing a business. Good time management requires a thorough understanding of your own strengths and weaknesses, being able to prioritize, and either delegating or asking for help when necessary. Prove that time management is in your wheelhouse by responding quickly to emails and arriving on time and prepared for your interview.
Hiring managers are always looking to add another MVP to their team. That’s what they’re looking for in you – someone whose skills compliment those of other workers. That’s where collaboration comes in. And it’s more than just playing nice with other employees. It means getting to know the strengths of yours and your coworkers so you can maximize your team’s capabilities.
Tenacity. Stick-to-it-tiveness. Flexibility. Employers are looking for people who don’t fear challenges and embrace them instead. That’s where grit comes into play. It’s a representation of your determination and desire to improve. During your interview, talk about how you’ve confronted a problem head-on, powered through, and came out on top.
The world is changing rapidly, and companies are doing everything they can to keep up. Hard skills become obsolete faster than they ever have before. And that’s the reason why adaptability is one of the main soft skills employers are looking for. Being highly adaptive helps you compensate for rapidly updating skill sets. In your interview, talk about your passion for the industry, eagerness to learn, and willingness to expand your scope.
8. Emotional Intelligence
EQ is taking center stage as enthusiasm for IQ wanes in the workplace. We’ve talked about emotional intelligence and why it’s gaining popularity. Emotional intelligence tests are available, but it’s still a good idea to establish your high EQ in the interview by highlighting your conscientious nature and ability to read the room.
Convincing others that you’re in the right is basically a superpower. While it’s especially valuable in sales roles, being able to get others to come around is helpful regardless of your job title. People often associate persuasion with pushiness – but the people who are most influential aren’t actually the bulldozers. They’re those with the most empathy. Taking time to understand the other side and letting them voice concerns opens up a dialogue that allows you to present your ideas as the solution to the problem – not an additional obstacle.
There are lots of places to demonstrate your persuasion skills during the hiring process (you’re trying to persuade them to give you the job, after all!). Make a power play during your interview by asking them if they have any major qualms about hiring you – and respond in a way that addresses and assuages their concerns.
74% of employers listed listening as a valuable talent they were trying to hire for. Specifically, employers are looking to hire active listeners – people who listen to understand, rather than just listening to respond. The best places to highlight this valuable skill are your phone screen and again in the in-person interview.
In the age of AI, hard skills will be the first to succumb to automation. Soft skills can’t be easily taught and are inherently human (for now, at least!). These strengths matter because they’re transferable skills that make an impact regardless of job title or industry. Prove you have the soft skills employers are looking for throughout the interview process and watch the job offers roll in.