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What are soft skills?

In short, soft skills are personal attributes and skills that help you to interact and communicate effectively with others. Examples of soft skills include communication, teamwork, problem-solving, adaptability, time management, leadership, empathy, critical thinking, and conflict resolution.

They are typically contrasted with hard skills, which are technical skills specific to a job or industry. While hard skills can be learned through education and training, soft skills are developed through life experience and interpersonal interactions.

Why soft skills matter

They are transferable: Soft skills can be applied to pretty much any job and situation, making them valuable throughout your career, and can significantly enhance your employability. They can also benefit your personal life by improving your relationships.

They are essential: Employers value soft skills highly because they contribute to a positive work environment, effective communication, and successful teamwork. They play a crucial role in building positive relationships, fostering collaboration, and navigating complex situations.

Identifying soft skills in candidates

In today’s workplace, technical skills are no longer the sole differentiator, and employers are increasingly seeking candidates who possess strong soft skills. Here are some strategies that employers use to identify them and how you can use each method to your advantage:

CV review and cover letters: Review the job description and identify the relevant soft skills mentioned. Tailor your CV and cover letter to mention applicable keywords to showcase your proficiency in those areas.

Interview questions: You should prepare clear examples from your previous roles where you used specific soft skills. Utilise the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to help you structure your answers.

References: While references primarily vouch for your professional experience and “hard skills”, they can also indirectly demonstrate your soft skills to potential employers. It’s worth providing context to your employer if you briefly mention the soft skills your reference can attest to. For example, you could say, “My line manager, Jane Doe, can attest to my problem solving, leadership and communication skills.”

Additional tips:

Be authentic: You wouldn’t lie about your hard skills and experience, so don’t try to fabricate your soft skills or portray yourself in an inauthentic light. It’s perfectly acceptable not to possess a particular soft skill, if you can demonstrate your willingness to learn and grow.

Focus on results: When sharing examples, make sure to highlight the positive outcomes achieved through your actions and the impact your soft skills had on the situation.

Be positive: Project a positive and professional demeanour throughout the hiring process.


While possessing strong soft skills is vital for success, you must keep in mind that growth is a continuous journey. By being authentic, showcasing your willingness to learn, and highlighting your transferable skills, you can make a lasting impression on potential employers. Remember, soft skills are not static, so be honest about your current skillset, focus on learning and development, and watch your soft skills blossom alongside your career!