30 of the Most Desirable Soft Skills
What are soft skills?
Soft skills can be a little difficult to define. They often don't relate directly to the specific job you have at the moment or the one you're applying for, but are your best personality traits and skills that can be transferred to any job.
You develop your soft skills through a lifetime of lived experience. Maybe you've practiced a martial art since you were a child and now you're brimming with confidence? Or perhaps your degree called on your to give weekly presentations and now your verbal communication skills are top notch?
These skills all relate to your attitude, your personality and how you emotionally react to situations, and the good news is that soft skills are very highly valued by employers because they can really differentiate you from other candidates.
While a lot of soft skills cover broad topics such as "good communicator" or "works well in a team" it helps to be more specific in today's jobs market. Soft skills can be broken down into subsets of wider skills, for example you might be a good overall communicator but really excel in presentation skills. Or you might like team work, but you really come into your own when managing conflicts within teams.
Which is why we've broken down your potential soft skills into 30 of the most desirable ones below, have a look through and see if you recognise these in yourself or if there are any skills you'd like to develop.
30 Of The Most Desirable Soft Skills
A badly worded email or report can distort your original message or land you in trouble completely unintentionally. Being able to express yourself succinctly while making sure your message is clear is probably one of the most important skills in today's working environments.
Being able to tell someone exactly what you need quickly and with clarity is a vital skill in a fast paced office, especially in cases where the written word may be lost in translation. Show willingness to pick up that phone or meet someone face to face to highlight your verbal talents.
If you're not able to get along with people or find a connection with them, work can be a struggle. Simply being likable can go a long way, and being able to empathise with co-workers shows them you genuinely care and take their concerns into consideration. All vital components of interpersonal communication.
A good presentation needs to get a simple message across to a wide audience in a limited time. You don't always know who your audience is going to be, but if you're skilled at selling clear and simple messages you're on to a winner.
Power of persuasion
This isn't about being able to persuade customers into sales. In fact, that approach may even be counter-intuitive. Being persuasive is much more focused on identifying needs and getting others to recognise those needs.
This one can be a fine line to walk as what some would perceive as confidence, others might see as arrogance! The real difference here is that genuine confidence is being able to stand behind your words and actions. If you can comfortably defend what you do and believe in, then you will win the respect of those at work and in your personal life.
Adaptability and Flexibility
Modern workplaces are in a constant state of flux and sometimes uncertainty. Whether it's adapting to new technologies in the industry, or facing down an aggressive new competitor, organisations need people who can change their ways of working in short notice.
Related to adaptability, a good employee doesn't just do tasks because "That's the way they've always been done.'' If you can demonstrate your ability to spot improvements, apply new ways of working or find a way to complete tasks more efficiently you're going to be highly valued.
Nobody likes people who are late or can't deliver within the timeframes they've promised. We expect this as a given in the workplace meaning bad time management becomes all the more noticeable when it happens. Know your limits and plan your workload accordingly.
If you're willing to celebrate your successes you must equally be able to own your failures and recognise where you can improve. Don't blame others when you are at fault, own up to your flaws, make improvements to yourself and you'll become well respected.
Many people naturally look to avoid conflict which is why many have not developed this as a talent. It is however highly sought after by employers and those with a strong track record of conflict resolution will go far.
Another rare talent, genuine creativity is sometimes difficult to find. But for those who can genuinely think differently and improve processes will open whole worlds of opportunities for themselves.
We all know every working environment is far from ideal. Every organisation is always lacking in one resource or has too much of another as they navigate a constant balancing act. That's why organisation's live and die on those resourceful few who can use what they have at hand to get the job done.
Being a mentor
Mentors play vital roles in organisations. By helping and inspiring other employees they can increase staff retention, bring the best out of people and motivate staff through tough times. If there's one thing employers will always want more of, it's good quality mentors.
Every workplace seems to have those negative people. The ones who seem to complain about everything, no matter what the situation. Their polar opposite is the enthusiastic employee. Not over the top by any means, but those staff who always keep a positive attitude through difficult times and expect they may have to work outside of their role from time to time are well respected.
One of life's great truths is that things aren't always going to go our way, in fact, we can expect the exact opposite much of the time! This is where patience comes in. Those who understand life is a long game don't tend to get flustered easily and can weather the tough times knowing better days are to come.
Whether we like it or not we're reliant on other human beings to get through our day. Whether you're a small freelancer or a company CEO you're going to need to cooperate on a whole host of issues. Agreeing deadlines, assigning tasks or deciding who will take the next client visit, the cooperative people are always ready to step in..
Attention to detail
These are the people who go that extra step, or add those few extra minutes to turn a good piece of work into a great piece of work. Far from being a perfectionist, having strong attention to detail represents extra care and effort and doesn't have to be a big statement.
Knowing not only your own strengths and weaknesses, but those of others will help teams work more efficiently. Usually a trait found in leaders and managers it's a skill you can learn at any stage of your career. Just be observant and get to know the people around you.
Without strong relationships people tend not to get far in their careers. This is important for customers, co-workers, supplier management or any other working relationship. Know who you're working with, what they need and see if you can meet those needs and others will do the same for you.
One of those soft skills that seem obvious at first glance but can be harder to find. Genuine honesty means not cutting corners, not bending the truth when you haven't done something or withholding information for personal gain. It also means not lying to yourself when you know deep down you're in the wrong.
Related to relationship building, if you can build a strong network you'll be well on the way to opening up new opportunities and challenges. It's also good not to see networking as something that can just serve you personally. The best networkers look for opportunities for other people in their network, always thinking about who can be referred on to who.
Calm under pressure
In a crisis we all know who to turn to. We all have that calm, level-headed person in mind we know will be able to tell us exactly what to do in any situation. That's why it's even better if you can be that person yourself.
For those who understand failure is their friend. Those who persevere recognise that in every defeat is an opportunity to learn, instead of being disheartened they reflect on what went wrong and what they can do better next time. Employers love perseverance because it says you're comfortable with set-backs and willing to improve.
This one comes with time and a strong reputation. For those at the peak of trustworthiness they can become the go to person in any organisation. Those who are trusted are usually given the best opportunities.
If you know both your strengths and weaknesses you know exactly when to utilise a skill and when to step back. When you're comfortable with exactly who you are you'll be able to navigate any workplace with ease.
Without clear goals and ambitions it's very easy to become stuck in a rut and you could find yourself coming to resent your current role and feeling you may never escape. However, if you have clear goals and ambitions your weekly, monthly and annual targets can really help motivate you. It also tells an employer you care about the organisation you work at and are vested in its success.
Able to take criticism
Some people can take feedback and criticism very personally. Rather than becoming an opportunity for growth it can lead people to resent the person who gave them feedback or in extreme cases feel the need to look for another job. Employers want someone who is comfortable with feedback and can see criticism as an opportunity.
Alongside honesty and trustworthiness, integrity completes the trifecta of the respectable individual. Those who do exactly what they say they're going to do will always be looked up to and respected by others.
Ability to prioritise
We all get a nice sense of accomplishment when we tick the easy tasks off our to do list. But, when we fail to prioritise those bigger, more important tasks, they only return as even bigger problems in the future. Employers want someone who can not only see which tasks are the most important, but those who then take active steps to do something about resolving them.