Soft skills are often referred to as interpersonal skills. It’s used as a term to describe an individual’s ability to interact productively and harmoniously with other people at work (and in life generally).
Soft skills are highly desirable qualities and are in demand by employers across all industries and sectors. The Australian Industry and Skills Committee’s National Industry Insights Report lists interpersonal skills including the ability to collaborate as a top five priority skill set.
This means that more than half of the industries consulted in developing the report named interpersonal skills as a priority for their workforce. The report further states that those able to collaborate and share information are best able to adapt to changing markets and technologies, interact in diverse workplaces, and effectively respond to customer needs.
Examples of soft skills
Soft skills can be broad and varied as they essentially “sum up” an individual’s personal attributes and how they “show up” in the workplace.
Soft skills are displayed by people in different ways and in different situations - they are linked to personality traits, inherent social cues and how the person values relationships.
Some of the interpersonal skills most desired by employers include:
- Professional attitude
- Creative thinking
- Decision making
- Resolving conflict
- Being positive and authentic
- Showing empathy
- Being flexible (ability to compromise)
Why do employers look for soft skills?
Many employers no longer see soft skills as just ‘nice to have’, but as crucial to management capability.
Most job roles involve interacting with people whether it’s customers, team members, suppliers or stakeholders. Soft skills, such as those listed above, enable an individual to engage with others effectively and drive results through performance.
A person with demonstrable soft skills usually also has elevated levels of emotional intelligence. Employers know that candidates who are emotionally intelligent can be a better cultural fit and become productive employees more quickly. It’s well documented that harmonious workplaces lead to happier staff and high performing teams.
There’s nothing fluffy about soft skills training
Soft skills deliver hard business results. If you’re looking to advance in your career progression or are currently in the job market and want to “pump up” your CV, consider investing in developing your interpersonal skills.