Soft Skills

Definition

The term soft skill refers to the abilities of an individual that are difficult to measure directly such as their emotional intelligence.  Soft skills are valued in the workplace because they are complementary to hard skills, which are the tangible capabilities of an individual.

Explanation

Soft skills are the talents possessed by an individual that involve their interactions with others.  Since hard skills are easier to measure, they will usually dominate the specifications appearing in job postings.  Soft skills are thought to complement hard skills, and the questions asked during an interview will attempt to assess the candidate's abilities in both of these areas.  The difference between hard skills and soft skills can be described in this manner:

Hard skills enable a worker to complete a task, while soft skills are the behaviors they exhibit when completing a task.

Soft skills can be thought of as the talents an individual exhibits when interacting with coworkers.  Examples of soft skills include:

  • Communication:  the ability to effectively share information verbally as well as through the written word.
  • Critical Thinking / Problem Solving:  the ability to process information and draw conclusions through careful observation, analysis, reflection, and reasoning.
  • Emotional Intelligence:  the ability to control one's own emotion, remain flexible and positive, recognize the emotions of others, and manage their interactions with others effectively.
  • Leadership:  the ability to influence and enlist the help of others to accomplish a task.
  • Teamwork and Collaboration:  the ability to work effectively with others while completing a shared task.
  • Work Ethic: the attitudes and feelings an individual has about working hard, and the belief that hard work builds character and results in reward.

Related Terms

skills, networking, social skills, effective listening skills, hard skills, skillset, transferable skill