Most professionals believe the only road to career success is in acquiring and mastering hard skills. People all over the world spend significant funds on acquiring specialized education and diplomas. These naturally open up career opportunities for further learning and success. While valuable, hard or specialized skills aren’t the only ones that matter to an employer. In fact, modern employers attach greater emphasis on certain key soft skills. Many of these skills may seem less important than a college degree or extensive work experience, but that is only a matter of perspective.
In 2023, more employers than ever seek to onboard talent with certain soft skillsets. The nature and benefits of these skills can vary. Their perceived value may be contingent on other variables like the role, workplace, and employer expectations. However, that does not change their desirability. Read on to learn more about these skills.
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Why Soft Skills Matter
Hard skills typically refer to specialized or technical knowledge or experience. They form the core skills that a professional can monetize in a work environment. Soft skills, on the other hand, may not necessarily come from an Ivy League education or a stint at an industry-leading company. In fact, in certain cases, they can be very hard (if not impossible) to teach.
Therefore, candidates that visibly possess these skills only add to their value, especially when compared to the extensive costs associated with teaching these hard skills vs soft skills from scratch. For employers, it is usually more efficient to hire people who already possess them.
But What are Soft Skills?
What are these skills exactly? Most soft skills lists look very similar to each other, even across a range of industries and organizational cultures. Obviously, as time goes on and workplace norms change, new skills get added to the list while some others become less in demand.
Soft skillsets are tangible displays of a person’s inherent traits. People acquire these skills more through personal experiences and interactions than through formal training or education. Therefore, they can manifest differently in different people. Why are soft skills important? Simply because they can prove somewhat reliable indicators of hiring success in advance.
These skills and traits usually determine how an individual (in this case an employee) would act in a workplace. Their interactions, work ethic, and personal moral compasses can play a huge role in making their particular skills desirable.
The Most Valuable Soft Skillsets In 2023
Soft skills, by virtue of being subject to individual experiences and traits, are far-ranging. But all of them may not necessarily apply to a broad range of workplaces or work roles. Therefore, for recruiters and hiring managers, identifying and onboarding talent with the right skills is very important. In 2023, more and more employers are on the lookout for candidates with:
Communication ability is often an overused byword when looking for new talent. But that does not mean it is any less useful. Clear and unambiguous communications keep businesses running smoothly. Teams and individual workers depend on clear communication of instructions. Managers and supervisors require timely communication on delays, problems, and completion. Therefore, communication ability is not just a desirable skill for an entry-level resource, but a great soft skill for managers as well.
Business conditions and consumer behavior are rarely static. Changes can appear, sometimes with blinding speed. Therefore, businesses need talent that can adapt not just quickly, but also effectively, to abnormal conditions. This can add some valuable agility to businesses, which in turn increases their chances of successfully navigating sudden disruptions.
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A customer service mindset is a great example of adaptability adding value to a role. Many consumers have problems that are uniquely their own. An unimaginative worker may find this to be a very challenging situation with which to deal, but an adaptable employee can quickly come up with the right responses to pacify an irate customer successfully. This makes it a very desirable customer service soft skill.
Efficient Time Management
Time management skills are another very underrated skill that can bring a lot of value to a role and to a workplace. When hiring for any role level, businesses should consider a candidate with strong time management as a good potential addition to the workforce. These skills can help workers manage and execute tasks more efficiently.
The value is immediately obvious when workers have to deal with complex and parallel tasks. More importantly, it can translate into a crucial skill in a management role when delivering projects on tight deadlines.
Visible Leadership Qualities
Hiring a resource that goes on to become a business leader is one of the most desirable outcomes of any hiring effort. While many leadership skills can be taught, it makes far more sense for an employer to hire somebody that already has them. Leadership skills can manifest in different ways, but they usually involve a mix of assertiveness, tenacity, courage, and of course, charisma, all of which are useful traits to add to a workforce.
High Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence or EQ has gained a lot of value over recent years. Over the decades, businesses have shifted how they view employees. In parallel, there is now a greater understanding of mental health, stress, and empathy. Most business leaders understand that a motivated and satisfied workforce is usually the most productive.
Managers need emotional intelligence to identify emotional distress that could impair motivation or job satisfaction. Therefore, it has become very important to hire people with the right EQ in the right roles.
Strong Professional Integrity
Professional integrity is a skill with immediately obvious value. This kind of work ethic is something that speaks volumes for an employee’s approach to their career. These workers will usually be honest, dedicated, respectful, and above all, goal-oriented. Employers can depend on them to do their work unsupervised and deliver consistently reliable quality. Personal beliefs and moral codes count for a lot in how this skill shapes itself and manifests over time.
Openness to Learning
Talent that is willing to learn and evolve is almost invaluable to any workplace. One of the biggest workforce management obstacles is worker stagnation. Such resources can gradually lose their importance and value in changing business landscapes.
On the other hand, employees with the ability and willingness to learn, unlearn and relearn have far greater sustainability. Given how quickly events can disrupt markets and industries, employers need to associate more value with this ability.
Comfort with Diversity
Diversity has quickly become the defining aspect of most progressive workplaces. Employers try very hard to eliminate any bias from their hiring. Instead, the focus is increasingly on professional ability, not preconceptions or unconscious bias. Almost every staffing agency has talent pools comprised of diverse individuals.
The same is true of modern workforce demographics. However, employers with diverse workforces need to keep building on that diversity. That could mean seriously considering candidates who are open to and comfortable with diversity. Such individuals are far more likely to function effectively in a modern and progressive workforce.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are examples of soft skills?
What are soft skills on a resume?
The kind of soft skills that a candidate can monetize in a professional setting.
How to improve soft skills?
Being open to new experiences, expanding learning, and exposure to new ideas.
Why is time management considered a soft skill?
It can be difficult to teach workable time management on an individual level. Many candidates learn how to manage time more effectively on their own.
What are soft skills in the workplace?
These skills either directly or indirectly add value to a workplace, beyond specialized skills or experience.
What are the best 7 soft skills?
Leadership, emotional intelligence, organizational ability, communication, willingness to learn, critical thinking, and professional ethics are among the most valuable ones.
How to identify soft skills?
Recruiters and hiring managers may need to look beyond the resume and engage meaningfully with candidates to recognize the right skills.
Is time management a soft skill?
Yes, time management is a valuable soft skill.
Is leadership a soft skill?
Yes, and it is rare enough to make it extremely desirable in a professional environment.
What soft skills matter most and why?
Leadership, adaptability, and professionalism are very important. They matter because they can be hard to acquire, yet offer tangible value to a business.