Career Planning Finding a Job Resumes Top Soft Skills Employers Value With Examples By Alison Doyle Alison Doyle Facebook Twitter Website Alison Doyle is one of the nation’s foremost career experts. learn about our editorial policies Updated on September 8, 2022 In This Article View All In This Article What Are Soft Skills? List of Top Soft Skills More Soft Skills How To Make Your Skills Stand Out Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Photo: 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. Note 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. Communication 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. Note 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. ListeningNegotiationNonverbal communicationPersuasionPresentationPublic speakingReading body languageSocial skillsStorytellingVerbal communicationVisual communicationWriting reports and proposalsWriting 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. AdaptabilityArtistic aptitudeCreativityCritical observationCritical thinkingDesign aptitudeDesire to learnFlexibilityInnovationLogical thinkingProblem-solvingResearch skillsResourcefulnessThinking outside the boxTolerance of change and uncertaintyTroubleshooting skillsValue educationWillingness to learn Leadership 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. Note 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 managementConflict resolutionDeal-makingDecision-makingDelegationDispute resolutionFacilitationGiving clear feedbackInspiring peopleLeadershipManagementManaging difficult conversationsManaging remote/virtual teamsMeeting managementMentoringMotivatingProject managementResolving issuesSuccessful coachingSupervisingTalent 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. ConfidenceCooperationCourtesyEnergyEnthusiasmFriendlinessHonestyHumorPatienceRespectabilityRespectfulness Teamwork 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 feedbackCollaborationCustomer serviceDealing with difficult situationsDealing with office politicsDisability awarenessDiversity awarenessEmotional intelligenceEmpathyEstablishing interpersonal relationshipsDealing with difficult personalitiesIntercultural competenceInterpersonal skillsInfluenceNetworkingPersuasionSelf-awarenessSelling skillsSocial skillsTeam buildingTeamwork 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. AttentivenessBusiness ethicsCompetitivenessDedicationDependabilityFollowing directionIndependenceMeeting deadlinesMotivationMultitaskingOrganizationPerseverancePersistencePlanningProper business etiquettePunctualityReliabilityResilienceResults-orientedSchedulingSelf-directedSelf-monitoringSelf-supervisingStaying on taskStrategic planningTime managementTrainabilityWorking 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. AssertivenessBusiness ethicsBusiness storytellingBusiness trend awarenessCustomer serviceEffective communicatorEmotion managementErgonomic sensitivityFollows instructionsFollows regulationsFollows rulesFunctions well under pressureGood attitudeHighly recommendedIndependentInterviewingKnowledge managementMeets deadlinesMotivatingPerforms effectively in a deadline environmentPerformance managementPositive work ethicProblem-solvingProcess improvementQuick-wittedResults-orientedSafety consciousSchedulingSelf-awarenessSelf-supervisingStress managementTeam playerTechnology savvyTechnology trend awarenessTolerantTrainableTrainingTroubleshootingWilling to accept feedbackWillingness to learnWork-life balanceWorks 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? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources 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. ZipRecruiter. "The Job Market Outlook for Grads." CareerOneStop. "Skills Assessment."