Top Soft Skills Employers Value With Examples

Image shows 6 women working together to arrange various stones to balance properly. Text reads: "Types of soft skills to include in your resume: communication skills, leadership, critical thinking, teamwork, work ethic, positive attitude"

Ran Zheng / The Balance 

Candidates with strong soft skills are in high demand for many different types of jobs. What are soft skills, and why are they so important? 

Soft skills are the interpersonal attributes you need to succeed in the workplace. They are how you work with and relate to others—in other words, people skills.

Key Takeaways

  • Soft skills, otherwise known as people skills, help you work well with others and achieve goals as a team.
  • Because even technical jobs require soft skills, employers are especially keen to hire and promote workers who have these abilities. 
  • Scan job descriptions for the soft skills employers are looking for and then emphasize those skills in your resumes, cover letters, and job interviews. 

What Are Soft Skills?

Soft skills are the skills that enable you to fit in at a workplace. They include your personality, attitude, flexibility, motivation, and manners. Soft skills are so important that they are often the reason employers decide whether to keep or promote an employee.

Soft skills are different from hard skills (also known as technical skills), which are directly relevant to the job for which you are applying. Hard skills are often more quantifiable, and easier to learn than soft skills.

A hard skill for a carpenter, for example, might be the ability to operate a power saw or use framing squares. A soft skill would be the carpenter’s ability to communicate effectively with co-workers and clients.


Regardless of the job to which you're applying, you need at least some soft skills.

In order to succeed at work, you must get along well with all the people with whom you interact, including managers, co-workers, clients, vendors, customers, and anyone else you communicate with while on the job. These are the types of skills all employers value.

Employers want employees who can interact effectively with others. These skills are also very hard to teach, so employers want to know that job candidates already have the soft skills they’ll need to be successful.

List of Top Soft Skills

Below is a list of the most important soft skills employers are interested in. The list includes sublists of related soft skills that employers tend to look for in job applicants.

Develop these skills and emphasize them in job applications, resumes, cover letters, and interviews. Showing the interviewer that you have the skills the company is seeking will help you get hired.


How well do you communicate? Communication skills are important in almost every job. You will likely need to communicate with people on the job, whether they are clients, customers, colleagues, employers, or vendors. You will also need to be able to speak clearly and politely with people in person, by phone, and in writing.


You will also likely need to be a good listener. Employers want employees who can not only communicate their own ideas but can also listen empathetically to others. Listening is a particularly important skill in customer service jobs.

  • Listening
  • Negotiation
  • Nonverbal communication
  • Persuasion
  • Presentation
  • Public speaking
  • Reading body language
  • Social skills
  • Storytelling
  • Verbal communication
  • Visual communication
  • Writing reports and proposals
  • Writing skills

Critical Thinking

No matter what the job, employers want candidates who can analyze situations and make informed decisions. Whether you are working with data, teaching students, or fixing a home heating system, you need to be able to understand problems, think critically, and devise solutions. Skills related to critical thinking include creativity, flexibility, and curiosity.

  • Adaptability
  • Artistic aptitude
  • Creativity
  • Critical observation
  • Critical thinking
  • Design aptitude
  • Desire to learn
  • Flexibility
  • Innovation
  • Logical thinking
  • Problem-solving
  • Research skills
  • Resourcefulness
  • Thinking outside the box
  • Tolerance of change and uncertainty
  • Troubleshooting skills
  • Value education
  • Willingness to learn


While not every job opening is a leadership role, most employers will want to know that you can make decisions when push comes to shove and can manage situations and people. The ability to step up to the plate in a difficult situation and help resolve it is something employers look for in prospective employees.


If you are interviewing for a job that has the potential for advancement, the employer will want to know that you have what it takes to become a leader.

Other skills related to leadership include the ability to resolve problems and conflicts between people and to make executive decisions.

  • Conflict management
  • Conflict resolution
  • Deal-making
  • Decision-making
  • Delegation
  • Dispute resolution
  • Facilitation
  • Giving clear feedback
  • Inspiring people
  • Leadership
  • Management
  • Managing difficult conversations
  • Managing remote/virtual teams
  • Meeting management
  • Mentoring
  • Motivating
  • Project management
  • Resolving issues
  • Successful coaching
  • Supervising
  • Talent management 

Positive Attitude

Employers are always seeking people who will bring a positive attitude to the office. They want employees who will be friendly to others, eager to work, and generally a pleasure to be around. Being able to keep things positive is especially important if you’re working in a fast-paced, high-stress work environment.

  • Confidence
  • Cooperation
  • Courtesy
  • Energy
  • Enthusiasm
  • Friendliness
  • Honesty
  • Humor
  • Patience
  • Respectability
  • Respectfulness


Hiring managers look for job candidates who can work well with others. Whether you will be doing a lot of team projects or simply attending a few departmental meetings, you need to be able to work effectively with the people around you. You need to be able to work with others even if you do not always see eye to eye.

Some skills related to teamwork include the ability to negotiate with others and to recognize and appreciate diversity in a team. Another related skill is the ability to accept and apply feedback from others.

  • Accepting feedback
  • Collaboration
  • Customer service
  • Dealing with difficult situations
  • Dealing with office politics
  • Disability awareness
  • Diversity awareness
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Empathy
  • Establishing interpersonal relationships
  • Dealing with difficult personalities
  • Intercultural competence
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Influence
  • Networking
  • Persuasion
  • Self-awareness
  • Selling skills
  • Social skills
  • Team building
  • Teamwork

Work Ethic

Employers look for job candidates with a strong work ethic. Such people come to work on time, complete tasks in a timely manner, and stay both focused and organized.

They can budget their time and complete their work thoroughly. While they can work independently, people with a strong work ethic can also follow instructions.

A strong work ethic is difficult to teach, so employers will be impressed if you can demonstrate it in your job application.

  • Attentiveness
  • Business ethics
  • Competitiveness
  • Dedication
  • Dependability
  • Following direction
  • Independence
  • Meeting deadlines
  • Motivation
  • Multitasking
  • Organization
  • Perseverance
  • Persistence
  • Planning
  • Proper business etiquette
  • Punctuality
  • Reliability
  • Resilience
  • Results-oriented
  • Scheduling
  • Self-directed
  • Self-monitoring
  • Self-supervising
  • Staying on task
  • Strategic planning
  • Time management
  • Trainability
  • Working well under pressure

More Soft Skills

Here are additional soft skills you may want to mention in resumes, cover letters, job applications, and interviews. Skills will vary based on the job for which you're applying, so pay close attention to the requirements listed in the job description. 

  • Assertiveness
  • Business ethics
  • Business storytelling
  • Business trend awareness
  • Customer service
  • Effective communicator
  • Emotion management
  • Ergonomic sensitivity
  • Follows instructions
  • Follows regulations
  • Follows rules
  • Functions well under pressure
  • Good attitude
  • Highly recommended
  • Independent
  • Interviewing
  • Knowledge management
  • Meets deadlines
  • Motivating
  • Performs effectively in a deadline environment
  • Performance management
  • Positive work ethic
  • Problem-solving
  • Process improvement
  • Quick-witted
  • Results-oriented
  • Safety conscious
  • Scheduling
  • Self-awareness
  • Self-supervising
  • Stress management
  • Team player
  • Technology savvy
  • Technology trend awareness
  • Tolerant
  • Trainable
  • Training
  • Troubleshooting
  • Willing to accept feedback
  • Willingness to learn
  • Work-life balance
  • Works well under pressure

How To Make Your Skills Stand Out

Add relevant skills to your resume. Include the terms most closely related to the job you’re applying for in your resume, especially in the description of your work history.

Highlight skills in your cover letter. You can incorporate soft skills into your cover letter. Include one or two of the skills mentioned here and give specific examples of instances when you demonstrated these traits at work.

Mention skills during job interviews. You can also use these words in your job interviews. Keep the top skills listed here in mind during your interview, and be prepared to give examples of how you've used each. Each job will require different skills and experiences, so make sure you read the job description carefully and focus on the skills listed by the employer.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How should you talk about your skills in a job interview?

Come to a job interview prepared to share stories about times when you used your skills to solve problems at work. Highlight skills that are specifically mentioned in the job description.

What is a skill set?

A skill set is the knowledge, abilities, and qualifications required to perform a job. Typically, skill sets combine hard skills (also called technical skills) and soft skills (also called people skills). 

Was this page helpful?
The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. ZipRecruiter. "The Job Market Outlook for Grads." 

  2. CareerOneStop. "Skills Assessment." 

Related Articles