What Are Soft Skills and Why Do Employers Seek it in Employees
Hiring managers typically look for job candidates with particular hard skills and soft skills.
Hard skills are job-specific skills and knowledge you need to perform a job. You can often gain hard skills through education, training programs, certifications, and on-the-job training. These are typically quantifiable skills that can be easily defined and evaluated. For example, a hard skill for an IT professional might be computer programming, while a hard skill for a carpenter might be a knowledge of wood framing.
Soft skills, on the other hand, are interpersonal (people) skills. These are much harder to define and evaluate. While hard skills are job-specific, most employers are looking for similar soft skills in their job candidates. Soft skills include communication skills, listening skills, and empathy, among others.
What Are Soft Skills?
Soft skills are the personal attributes, personality traits, inherent social cues, and communication abilities needed for success on the job. Soft skills characterize how a person interacts in his or her relationships with others.
Unlike hard skills that are learned, soft skills are similar to emotions or insights that allow people to “read” others. These are much harder to learn, at least in a traditional classroom. They are also much harder to measure and evaluate.
Soft skills include attitude, communication, creative thinking, work ethic, teamwork, networking, decision making, positivity, time management, motivation, flexibility, problem-solving, critical thinking, and conflict resolution.
Here’s more information on the difference between hard skills and soft skills, and here is a longer list of soft skills.
Why Do Employers Care About Soft Skills?
It is easy to understand why employers want job candidates with particular hard skills. After all, if you are hiring a carpenter, he or she needs skills in carpentry.
However, soft skills are important to the success of almost all employers. After all, nearly every job requires employees to engage with others in some way. Therefore, being able to interact well with others is important in any job.
Another reason hiring managers and employers look for applicants with soft skills is because soft skills are transferable skills that can be used regardless of the job at which the person is working. This makes job candidates with soft skills very adaptable employees.
Also, because soft skills are acquired over time as opposed to during a class or training program, people with soft skills are often seen as having unique and broad backgrounds that can diversify a company and help it run more efficiently.
Soft skills are particularly important in customer-based jobs. These employees will typically be in direct contact with customers. It takes a number of soft skills to be able to listen to a customer, and provide that customer with helpful and polite service.