Soft skills—what are they and how do you know if you have them?

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You may have heard that employers are interested in hiring people with good “soft skills.” But what exactly are good soft skills?

Soft skills are sometimes called people skills, or work-readiness skills. They are your personality, attitudes, and manners. They can also include how you present yourself. So the way you talk, the way you listen, the way you make eye contact, and even the way you dress are part of your soft skills.

Employers look for soft skills to decide how someone may do at a job. This is important to employers when they hire. Soft skills are often the reason employers decide whether to keep or promote workers.

Typical soft skills

Some soft skills can be taught in school. But most you learn in everyday life and can improve at any time. Here are some examples:

  • flexible about change
  • comfortable working with different people
  • determined
  • quick learner
  • follow instructions
  • friendly and respectful
  • solve problems
  • handle criticism well
  • on time
  • patient
  • self-motivated
  • stick with the job
  • take responsibility for actions
  • accept the rules
  • teamworker
  • work calmly

You might have these skills and not even realize they can help an employer. Or you might struggle with them. If so, it’s always a good idea to practice soft skills. One way to practice is to talk to friends, family, or a counselor. Ask for feedback on your soft skills. Look for specific things you can improve. For instance, if you have trouble making eye contact, you can practice this.

CareeerOneStop has a Skills Checklist (also available en español) that can help you identify your soft skills. Then you can name them in resumes, cover letters, or interviews.

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