Soft Skills: What They Are and Why We Should Develop Them

Soft Skills: What They Are and Why We Should Develop Them

Last update: 24 October, 2018

Some people call soft skills transversal skills. What are they all about? Well, these types of skills are basically oriented towards the work world. The opposite of these skills are the ones we consider “hard skills”.

Hard skills are related to formally acquired knowledge, the knowledge we may get from our educational background at certain institutes. Those skills can be certified with a tittle or diploma.

“What really matters for success, character, happiness, and life-long achievements is a definite set of emotional skills – your EQ — not just purely cognitive abilities that are measured by conventional IQ tests.”

-Daniel Goleman-

Soft skills are the ones we use to put what we’ve learned into practice. And we’re not just talking about what we learn during our formal education, but also what we learn with practice and experience. These skills are closely related to our attitudes, values, and everything that comes into play while we work.

Teamwork is a soft skill.

Soft skills are in

An increasing number of companies are starting to talk about soft skills. Many of the most prestigious companies are currently giving great importance to these types of skills when selecting their employees. There’s a strong belief that what’s really important for the working environment and productivity are soft skills and not intellectual skills.

The most sought out soft skills by human resource departments are the ability to work in a team and communication skills. Both of these capabilities are essential to avoiding and dealing with conflicts adequately. Being in a group where everyone thinks only about themselves demotivates workers greatly. This can also happen in groups where personal interests and miscommunication cause conflicts every day.

Values are also included in the long list of soft skills. The most sought out values in a workspace are honesty, responsibility, and commitment. Someone with great talents is worthless if they’re not able to commit to common goals. Companies find it essential to be able to count on people and for those people to be committed to the work they do. Likewise, creativity is also important. The skills to solve problems and propose innovative ideas are priceless in the work world.

A case study

LinkedIn, the social network oriented towards work-related issues, did some research on the topic with different companies. The study sought to understand the level of importance that human resource departments gave soft skills in comparison to hard skills.


The results of this study, where 291 human resource directors were interviewed, confirmed hypotheses from the field of occupational psychology. The first thing they concluded was that companies found many candidates with hard skills, but few with soft skills.

The soft skills that entrepreneurs most valued were good communication, organization, teamwork, punctuality, critical thinking, sociability, creativity, adaptability, and friendliness.

However, those responsible for employee selection were having a lot of trouble finding people with a higher education with those skills. “They either have one or the other,” said one of the interviewees. This is a reflection of the fact that formal education gives more importance to someone’s intellect than their personality.

Soft skills are definitive

The study also found that some fields have more people with soft skills. In particular, these characteristics were more common in the fields of marketing, education, health, sports, consulting, and tourism.

Violin player.

Meanwhile, these capabilities were hard to find in other professions, mainly in visual arts, music, photography, civil engineering, and law enforcement. This is very interesting. In theory, fields like arts and law enforcement demand great human skills. However, those responsible for human resources said that in precisely those areas it was more difficult to find candidates who combined knowledge and social skills with working values.

Lastly, what the study revealed was that many workers lack emotional intelligence. Also, that other types of intelligence involved in the working environment are more important than intelligence. This is especially true when it comes to teamwork. The positive side of this is that we can learn to master these soft skills that are so important in the work world. Soft skills can help workers succeed.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.