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‘Soft skills’: The intangible qualities companies crave

Technical prowess is important for securing a job. But lower-profile skills like communication and critical thinking are becoming just as crucial – if not more

By | Kate Morgan |

In order to do your job effectively, you need hard skills: the technical know-how and subject-specific knowledge to fulfil your responsibilities. But in a forever-changed world of work, lesser-touted ‘soft skills’ may be just as important ­– if not even more crucial.

These skills are more nuanced, even low-profile: think personal characteristics and behaviours that make a strong leader or a good team member. Especially amid the normalisation of remote work, where collaboration and the ways to innovate have changed, companies are beginning to catch on to the importance of these intangibles when building out diverse, successful teams. 

As a result, employers are increasingly considering a candidate’s soft skills as closely as their experience and explicit technical specialties, say experts. 

For some workers, some soft skills are innate – personality traits that make someone a naturally good communicator or analytical thinker. But for others, developing and honing soft skills can be more challenging. Yet it is possible for every worker to develop and hone these characteristics as well as learn how to show them off. And that, say experts, is something we should all be doing. 

What are soft skills?

There is no definitive list of soft skills, but the term essentially refers to abilities beyond the technical. Confidence with certain software, for instance, is a hard skill; on the other hand, knowing how to analyse different software packages to figure out what a company should be using requires critical thinking: a soft skill. 

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