10 Valuable Soft Skills That You Need to Succeed in Your Career

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 11 February 2021 | Published 25 August 2020

Updated 11 February 2021

Published 25 August 2020

Related: Top Resume Skills

Learn more about what hard skills and soft skills to put on a resume so it stands out from the others.

Soft skills are incredibly valuable in all industries, workplaces and roles. These skills and qualities enable you to be a productive and communicative team member, which is why employers often seek these skills just as often as hard or technical skills. Understanding what soft skills are can help you identify and improve upon your own, helping you become a more well-rounded candidate and employee. In this article, we explore 10 important soft skills you can include in a CV and ways to showcase them in the recruiting process.

What are soft skills?

Soft skills are non-technical skills that promote productivity, efficiency and effective communication in the workplace. Some soft skills can also be part of your personality or work ethic. These skills are often transferable across roles and industries and are necessary in every level of the workplace, from entry-level roles to top-level executives.

Why are soft skills important?

Soft skills offer many benefits to you, your team members and your organisation, including:

  • Increased efficiency and productivity

  • Stronger interpersonal and professional relationships

  • More innovative solutions

  • Company growth

Employers value soft skills because these skills:

  • Demonstrate your initiative, proactivity and confidence

  • Help them understand your professional personality

  • Determine if you are a good fit within a team and align with an organisation's goals

  • Promote better company culture

Examples of soft skills

Many soft skills are valuable in the workplace, and these are 10 of the most impactful soft skills you can have:

  • Communication

  • Teamwork

  • Problem-solving

  • Dependability

  • Critical thinking

  • Positive attitude

  • Organisation

  • Creativity

  • Adaptability

  • Conflict resolution

Communication

Communication is how you express your thoughts, ideas and feelings to others as well as understand those you interact with at work. There are four important types of communication skills that you can use in your everyday work life:

  • Verbal communication: This involves speaking to anyone you encounter in the workplace, including people at different levels of an organisation. Effective verbal communication includes interpersonal conversations, speaking over the phone, public speaking and appropriately interacting with clients and customers, peers and supervisors.

  • Non-verbal communication: This type includes being able to understand body language, maintain proper eye contact, manage your tone of voice and vocabulary and use gestures to show engagement.

  • Written communication: There are many forms of written communication, including business correspondence, emails, reports, contracts and memos.

  • Audio-visual communication: These skills are important when using digital visualisation tools like slide shows and videos while giving presentations or working in certain industries, such as those involving design.

  • Active listening: This communication skill enables you to better focus on what a speaker is saying, retain more information and confirm with follow-up questions that you understand their ideas, instructions and/or needs and expectations.

  • Digital communication: This can involve many different forms of communication but include using video conferencing tools, social media and instant messaging.

Related: Interpersonal Skills: Definitions and Examples

Teamwork

Teamwork skills are the qualities that allow you to work well with others and include the ability to relate, communicate and collaborate in reaching goals. This soft skill reflects your ability to:

  • Help others with their tasks

  • Train others on tasks and processes you excel in

  • Participate in meetings

  • Complete your part of a project correctly and on time

  • Provide constructive feedback to your peers

  • Be respectful of everyone's ideas and opinions

This skill is incredibly important for companies since it helps you complete tasks more efficiently as a team and creates an enjoyable working environment.

Problem-solving

Problem-solvers are innovative thinkers who specialise in finding several solutions to an obstacle. With problem-solving skills, you can identify an issue, research possible solutions, use logical trial and error and establish ways to prevent the issue from happening again. Like many other soft skills, experience and knowledge can improve your efficiency and effectiveness.

Dependability

Dependability is the ability to follow through on what is expected of you. This may include consistently:

  • Doing high-quality work

  • Meeting deadlines

  • Being punctual to work and meetings

  • Helping others when you have the time

Companies need employees they can count on, so by developing your dependability, you show potential employers that you are a responsible and reliable team member.

Critical thinking

Critical thinking is the ability to analyse facts to make a decision. While it overlaps with problem-solving, the key aspects of critical thinking include:

  • Research and data analysis

  • Considering all possible options and outcomes

  • Mitigating risk

This skill is exceptionally helpful for making important decisions and solving more complex problems, so employers seek out candidates with this skill to promote growth and improve company-wide processes.

Positive attitude

Having a positive attitude means being optimistic and cheerful at work, no matter the task. People with a positive attitude are more eager to work, demonstrate self-motivation and can interact well with others. This quality can help to improve morale for an entire team or company and shape company culture and values, too.

Organisation

This skill refers to the efficient and effective processes you adhere to while at work. It includes other skills and qualities like time management and punctuality. Some examples of being organised at work include:

  • Keeping a calendar or diary

  • Creating a file system for documents

  • Prioritising daily tasks

  • Managing deadlines

  • Establishing procedures for completing tasks

Organisation is important because it promotes individual efficiency and productivity as well as that of the team and company.

Creativity

Creativity means the ability to come up with something new, innovative and/or engaging. You can use creativity for many different situations at work, including:

  • In certain industries, like design, marketing and engineering

  • When finding solutions or testing hypotheses

  • To brainstorm with colleagues

Typically, creativity is used with a variety of other soft skills, including teamwork, communication and problem-solving. It can also be used with hard skills as well, such as using specific software in design or referring to technical knowledge like mechanics or health science.

Adaptability

Adaptability is the ability to change your way of thinking and acting to accommodate a new situation. You might use adaptability to change the way you communicate with clients than the way you communicate with a team member. You may be adaptable when your organisation institutes a policy change, and you must adhere to new rules or procedures to be effective. You can even be adaptable by learning new skills, pursuing more education or training or just keeping up-to-date on the trends in your industry. Employers value this skill because it shows that you are dedicated to always improving.

Conflict resolution

Conflict resolution involves being able to respectfully and effectively solve a problem between two or more parties who have different solutions. This skill can include:

  • Mediating between two or more parties to help them reach a compromise

  • Help clarify confusion or differences in opinions and communication styles

  • Researching each side's arguments

  • Knowing when to ask senior team leaders for assistance with conflict resolution

  • Promoting collaboration and respect during and after mediation

Conflict resolution helps employees better understand each other, develop mutual respect and enlighten one another about their expectations and needs. Being able to effectively work through conflicts can strengthen your team's relationships and productivity.

How to highlight your soft skills

To promote yourself as a high-quality candidate, be sure to emphasise your soft skills in your cover letter, on your CV and during the interview.

Highlighting soft skills in your cover letter

While writing your cover letter, you can include a paragraph that highlights your achievements using soft skills in your previous work experience. You can also mention your strongest soft skills when you first introduce yourself as well.

Example: 'I am a self-motivated and creative marketing manager with up-to-date digital communication skills and 10 years of experience in the field. In my last role as Assistant Marketing Manager, I coordinated the marketing department's weekly meetings, wrote agendas and memos and created pitch presentations for multiple clients'.

Related: Q&A: Should You Include a Cover Letter?

Highlighting soft skills on your CV

In your CV, you can include soft skills in a 'Skills' section, and you can even include strong, active verbs that show your soft skills in action at work.

Example:

  • 'Managed the events calendar and diaries of eight executives.

  • Wrote all interoffice correspondence

  • Created a digital filing system to organise client orders, improving efficiency by 15%'.

Read more: 6 Universal Rules for Writing Your CV

Highlighting soft skills during an interview

During an interview, use unique anecdotes from your previous experience to further showcase how you use soft skills on the job. Use the STAR method to explain the situation, describe the task you had, outline the actions you took and reveal the results of your efforts.

Example: 'In my last role as an accounting assistant, my office wanted to reduce spending. I had to review the bookkeeping data to look for unneeded expenses, like unused subscriptions or over-ordering of supplies. I collected all of the data from the past quarter, identified areas of concern, calculated how much money the company would save by removing these expenses and then compiled my findings and suggestions into a slide show and complementary report that I presented to executives. They were impressed with my findings and allowed me to lead a project to remove unwanted expenditures and establish healthier spending policies'.

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