Soft Skills: Game-Changing Competencies for Your Toolkit

Through a study of its employees’ most impactful skills, Google created a list of the seven most important skills the company looks for in prospective hires, including being a good coach, communicating and listening well, possessing insight into others (social awareness), empathy and support toward colleagues, critical thinking, problem solving, and connecting complex ideas.

The commonality between the items on this list? They’re all soft skills.

layer “Critical thinking, persuasive writing, communications, and teamwork are not fluffy, nice-to-have value-adds. They’re hard-won and rigorously maintained abilities that are better referred to as power skills."

“Many believe that the term “soft skills” is a misnomer,” said edX founder and CEO Anant Agarwal in an article for Forbes. “Critical thinking, persuasive writing, communications, and teamwork are not fluffy, nice-to-have value-adds. They’re hard-won and rigorously maintained abilities that are better referred to as “power skills.”

Keep reading to learn why industry data, market trends, and insights from top business leaders highlight strong soft skills as a key component to a successful career. 

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Why Soft Skills Are Important

The importance of soft skills cannot be overlooked. Soft skills allow team members to work together effectively, communicate well, and think in ways that lead to innovation and creativity. Strong soft skills will help you deliver better results at work, furthering your career and improving the success of your organization.

Furthermore, soft skills will be more valuable than ever in the future of work. Technological advances such as automation and artificial intelligence have caused tasks that require hard skills to decline. A greater proportion of available jobs in the future will rely on soft skills, making them a key differentiator during the hiring process.

If you’re not sure where to get started, focusing on sharpening your problem solving skills is a valuable first step. Data from the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report say that critical thinking and problem solving top the list of skills that employers believe will become more important over the next five years.

learn problem solving and critical thinking

layer In RITx’s Problem Solving and Critical Thinking course, you’ll learn how to perform strategic analysis and assessment and employ adaptive problem solving skills.

Recruiters, hiring managers, and human resources professionals may assess your soft skills through situational and behavioral interview questions. For example, you may be asked to describe a situation when you worked as a part of a team to assess whether you’re a team player and how well you’ll work with your future co-workers.

preparing for an interview?

layer Learn how to incorporate soft skills in your next interview with edX’s after learning guide.

What are Soft Skills? 11 Examples

Soft skills are interpersonal skills that impact your relationships and interaction with others, both inside and outside the work environment. The top skills in this category are a combination of personal attributes or personality traits, people skills, attitudes, and emotional intelligence skills, including:

  • Effective communication skills
  • Active listening
  • Leadership skills
  • Collaboration and teamwork
  • Critical thinking
  • Problem solving
  • Conflict resolution
  • Adaptability
  • Positive attitude
  • Work ethic
  • Time management

If you’re a manager, focusing on your leadership skills is another example of a way to get started. “More than 80% of employers say they look for candidates with evidence of leadership skills and the ability to work in a self-led team,” said Dr. Tyler Okimoto, Professor in Management at the University of Queensland (UQ) and instructor for the MicroMasters® Program in Business Leadership.

master business leadership

layer Whether you’re new to managing or a seasoned leader, UQ’s MicroMasters program in business leadership will sharpen your leadership skills with courses in critical thinking, problem solving, business communication, teamwork, and collaboration.

Should I Improve My Soft Skills? Getting Started With Soft Skills Training

When you follow the data, it’s clear that soft skills are important. From entry-level workers to executives and leadership, everyone in the modern workplace needs a hybrid skill set that balances soft skills along with hard skills (technical skills). Now more than ever, it’s time to take advantage of the flexibility of online learning and start strengthening your soft skills.

Explore Soft Skill Courses