The Top 12 Soft Skills Employers Seek

Every job has essential hard skills and experience necessary for the work. Even though these skills are extremely important, there are specific “soft skills” that employers look for when hiring people for their organization.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is not a new theory, but it is a relatively new desired soft skill in the workplace. It is generally defined as the awareness of your emotions and feelings and those of others while being able to use the awareness to guide decisions and interactions with others. It is desirable in a high-stress type of environment to employ people who are able to control their emotions, work together to complete projects and be effective teams.

Leadership and Persuasiveness

Leadership is not simply being the one in charge and leading a team. It is the ability to persuade others employers, including your peers. Employers need people that can work alongside other people, be able to explain to them their expert opinions, and persuade them to make decisions that align with their ideas. Persuasive peer leadership is an admirable trait that will ensure teams are successful.

Analytical and Quantitative Skills

Employers want people with the ability to think critically and analytically. Employees that are able to identify trends in large amounts of information are in high demand. Quantifying information is assigning numerical values to pieces of information, and sorting that information for analysis. This is a highly desirable skill due to the amount of information that is being gathered on a daily basis.

Curiosity and Learning Desire

Employees that are curious and driven to learn more are more apt to become proficient in technology driven workplaces. Technology is continuing to advance at break-neck speeds, making it easy to be left behind. “Life-long learner” is a desired skill used in many job postings, referring to a person’s innate curiosity and desire to learn more, with the ability to apply what is learned at work.

Contextualize or See the Big Picture

It is necessary to be able to conceptualize what organizations are doing, and how they are affected by certain circumstances or decisions, Employers are looking for people who can work towards the larger goals of a company, and make decisions that will have results focused on larger company goals.

Excellent Communication and Interpersonal Skills

The ability to communicate effectively cannot be overrated. To succeed in the workforce, employees need to know how to communicate as well as listen to work effectively with supervisors, co-workers, and clients.

Computer/Technological Skills

Most jobs today require basic computer skills and technological knowledge. Technology is used for record-keeping, data collection, detailed notes, or presentations. Employers want to know a candidate’s level of computer and technological knowledge to establish if they can do the basics of any job.

A Positive Attitude

A positive attitude can do wonders in turning a department or company around. Having employees who possess a positive attitude can also be contagious; for employers, it’s important for them to have that energy in the workplace. It keeps people going when under stress, makes difficult work seem easier, and can make a work environment more enjoyable.

A Strong Work Ethic

A strong work ethic is the drive to be working and do well. Finding and hiring people that possess a strong work ethic is key to the success of any employer. A strong work ethic is hard to teach, and harder to maintain if it doesn’t exist already. Self-realization, self-reflection, and dedication to change on a person’s part can create a stronger work ethic, but employers do not have time or the inclination to help a person develop this essential skill.

Problem-Solving Skills and Creativity

Problems will always arise. Employees who can find solutions to daily challenges are more valuable to an organization than those that find problems and no solutions. Some managers prefer to have a problem brought to their attention with options for solutions presented at the same time. If you are in a position to make decisions, you should be capable of creating solutions or eliciting solutions from your team.


In the past employees would often seek jobs that aligned with their desire to either work independently or work in a team environment. In today’s workforce, much of the work is done in teams; there is a need for employees to work independently (sometimes as part of a team), but you will more than likely be part of a team working towards an objective.

Perform Under Pressure

The competitive nature of the marketplace creates tight deadlines and pressure to produce quickly. If a company does not release a product or service on time, they will lose the opportunity to do so to its competitors. To perform under pressure, you need to have all of the previously discussed attributes.

You’ll need to rely on teammates, solve problems, understand and work with emotions, have a positive attitude and technical skills to complete the work. A strong work ethic will see you through tough times, while creativity will help you find the solutions to problems. Work on developing all of these skills, and you will be more desirable to employers and effective at work.
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By Jennifer Weinstein
Jennifer Weinstein Jennifer Weinstein