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Fox Business
Fox Business
10 Feb 2024


Your job performance is a combination of your "hard skills" — your technical knowledge and hands-on work product — and your intangible "soft skills," which are taking the American workplace by storm. 

Soft skills are non-technical skills that relate to how you work.

These skills include how you interact with colleagues, how you solve problems and how you manage your work, according to The Balance, a personal finance website.  

For example, soft skills include "interpersonal skills, communication skills, listening skills, time management, problem-solving, leadership and empathy, among others," the same source said.

Employers are seeking these skills, as employees who possess these skills enhance a workplace, experts said.  

Woman shakes hands at job interview

"Success in the workplace often requires more than the technical ability to do the job. Soft skills are what make the difference."  (iStock / iStock)

"For many employers, soft skills are just as important as hard skills," said Chicago-based Kelli Hall, head of recruiting, at Enova International, a financial technology company.

"This is because success in the workplace often requires more than the technical ability to do the job. Soft skills are what make the difference." 

Here’s how to hone your own soft skills in the workforce.

The online learning platform Springboard for Business recently released its 2024 State of the Workforce Skills Gap report, which surveyed more than 1,000 corporate professionals working at large companies. 

Critical thinking is essential in "this pivot-or-perish environment where businesses must be strategic and adapt quickly to remain competitive."

"Our survey found that the most in-demand soft skill, also known as a durable or non-perishable skill, is strategic thinking," Chris Duchesne, general manager of Springboard for Business based in Boston told FOX Business

"More than half of leaders (57%) say their company needs more people with strategic thinking skills right now." 

With the economy in a state of flux, Duchesne said, critical thinking is essential in "this pivot-or-perish environment where businesses must be strategic and adapt quickly to remain competitive."

male remote worker

"These competencies cannot be outsourced to AI in the same way that technical skills can. They are also key leadership skills applicable in every function and at every level." (iStock / iStock)

Additionally, soft skills such as problem-solving — which 49% of leaders say their companies need — and verbal and written communication skills (46%) are also essential to keep pace in a rapidly evolving landscape, the report revealed.

Rounding out the list is emotional intelligence and interpersonal relationships, the report said.

As 79% of leaders say the longevity of technical skills is limited to five years or less, soft skills have become increasingly important, noted Duchesne. 

"Soft skills are even more essential for adapting and navigating new challenges as AI continues to dramatically change every industry," he pointed out. 

"To stand out, candidates should make sure their soft skills don’t get lost on the page."

"These competencies cannot be outsourced to AI in the same way that technical skills can. They are also key leadership skills applicable in every function and at every level."

Employers will often receive hundreds of resumes for a single position — so highlighting your soft skills in your resume language is a smart move, say experts.  

 

Use words like facilitated, presented, negotiated and implemented. 

"To stand out, candidates should make sure their soft skills don’t get lost on the page," Hall, the recruiting expert at Enova, told FOX Business. 

woman leading a meeting

"Outline your unique competencies by talking through prior work experiences that demonstrate your critical thinking, problem-solving and communication skills." (iStock / iStock)

"Be explicit, and mention soft skills by name."

And, according to Duchesne with Springboard, soft skills are a way to set yourself apart in an interview, especially when the majority of other candidates to reach this stage have similar technical skills. 

"Outline your unique competencies by talking through prior work experiences that demonstrate your critical thinking, problem-solving and communication skills," he recommended. 

Employees who master these soft skills not only excel individually but also elevate their teams and the entire organization, Duchesne told FOX Business. 

"They become catalysts for innovation, efficiency, and growth," he said.

"The consistent outperformance of such employees highlights a clear correlation between soft skills proficiency and professional success. In a business landscape that continually evolves, these skills remain in constant demand."