5 simple yet essential soft skills you’ll need to land your dream job

Woman looking at sticky notes at work

If there’s one thing the pandemic taught us, it’s that the concepts of careers will constantly evolve, including a demand for more soft skills.

While employers are looking for those technical skills (what you learned in university or an apprenticeship), having those harder-to-develop soft skills could land you that dream job or a big promotion.

So, what exactly are soft skills? They are also known as people skills – how well you work with others to achieve goals and fit in at work. Soft skills are fundamental, so much so that many employers value them when hiring, promoting and keeping employees in the business. 

For example, say you are a developer in the tech industry; you may be well-versed in the technical aspects of the job, programming languages and coding. Still, if you aren’t able to work in a team environment or communicate well, you may not be a good fit.

What are the top soft skills employers are looking for?

Teamwork

A group of coworkers are gathered around and talking
Teamwork makes the dream work. (Getty)

Research from recruitment agency Robert Half shows that over 30% of employers think that teamwork is the most important soft skill to have. Employers know that having a strong team that can collaborate and communicate will lead to success no matter the situation. There are many ways to show off your teamwork skills, but here are just a few to consider:

  • Being able to give and receive feedback and constructive criticism.
  • Appreciating the benefits of a diverse team.
  • Actively listening to your colleagues.
  • Being proactive in meetings and projects.
  • Creating a positive and supportive working environment – either in person or remotely.

Communication

A group of people are talking about work.
Communication is just as much non-verbal as it is verbal (Getty)

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It’s an old saying, but ‘communication is key’ still rings true today. Being able to communicate efficiently will make you more productive and also prevent miscommunication with other coworkers and your boss. Good communication skills will help you articulate yourself more easily and also understand what your colleague’s needs are, ultimately making you a better collaborator. If you’re looking to brush up on your communication skills, consider these tips:

  • Take a moment before you speak.
  • Re-read that email before you hit ‘send.’
  • Remember that communication is also non-verbal, so pay attention to your body language.
  • Know where to communicate. Can your message be delivered over Slack or Zoom?
  • Give feedback, and also be able to take it in.

Empathy

A women is listening intently to a colleague speaking.
For many in the LGBTQ+ community, empathy is inherent. (Getty)

For many, empathy is the most important soft skill. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others, mainly through shared experiences. For many in the LGBTQ+ community, showing empathy is part of our everyday lives as our experiences living our authentic selves have shaped who we are and how we interact with others. When it comes to leadership, being empathetic involves spotting things like burnout among your employees and showing interest in the needs of others. Remember that empathy is like a muscle; you need to work at it constantly, so here are some tips for working on your empathetic abilities:

  • Be curious about other people.
  • Listen to others but also share your own experiences.
  • Ask questions.
  • Allow yourself to be vulnerable.
  • Focus on similarities rather than differences.

Flexibility 

A woman is speaking on a video call.
Being able to adapt to changes is a skill employers are looking for. (Getty)

It’s not just the pandemic that changed how we work; advances in technology and other workplace changes have made an impact. Employers are looking for employees who can embrace change and adapt accordingly. How can you get more flexible? Consider these tips:

  • Embrace change in the workplace.
  • Be passionate about learning new skills.
  • Find opportunities to help co-workers.
  • Communicate honestly and openly.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Time-management

Woman working at a computer on a project.
Recruiters want to make sure you know how to manage your time. (Getty)

While the likes of Lord Alan Sugar and Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon would prefer their employees to be in the office full-time, many day-to-day employees prefer a hybrid approach to work. Data from the ONS revealed that in May of 2022, nearly a quarter of people were splitting up their work week between the office and home. 

With large companies like Deloitte, PwC and Reach PLC (and also PinkNews) adopting a hybrid approach to work, recruiters and hiring managers are looking for candidates that can manage their time effectively as they bounce between home and the office. Here are a few tips that make you more efficient at both home and office:

  • Start your day with a to-do list and check the boxes as you complete tasks.
  • Take breaks – they will refocus your energy throughout the day
  • Keep away from your rabbit holes – it’s easy to get lost in TikTok or Twitter, consider blocking these and other distractions off your phone during working hours.
  • Set a schedule that has you starting work at the same time each day regardless if you’re in the office or working remotely.
  • Block off ‘focus time’ where you don’t take any calls or meetings. 

How can I show off my soft skills?

Before applying for a role, scan the job post for all the soft skills mentioned above and ensure those skills are relevant in both your CV and cover letter. In your cover letter, include one or two of the skills mentioned in the job post and give specific examples of when you demonstrated those skills. In your CV, have those skills in the descriptions of your work experience.

When you get to the interview stage, come prepared with answers to questions like “Can you give an example of when you worked well with others?” Make sure you highlight experiences when other soft skills were utilised. 

Remember that regardless of the job you are applying for, soft skills will always be needed for that role.