How Soft Skills Can Help You Land Your Next Job

If you’re looking for an edge to help you get a new job, consider this: What’s the most significant problem you’ve solved in the workplace?

And this: How do you explain new topics to coworkers unfamiliar with them?

Or this: Describe a situation where results went against expectations. How did you adapt to this challenge?

Those are examples of questions that employers might use to deeper an understanding of a job candidate’s fit for a job, according to a blog post at, a popular job site.

Why Soft Skills Matter

Soft skills — or success skills, as we like to call them at GovLoop — include communication, critical thinking, collaboration and other personal and interpersonal capabilities that help you do your job and work with others.

Recent studies have found that employers increasingly emphasized the importance of soft skills when hiring and promoting workers. For example, according to a LinkedIn survey, recruiters say that in 89% of the cases where new hires don’t work out, the problem is a lack of soft skills.

That’s not to say that hard skills are becoming any less important. It’s just employers recognizing that hard skills are not enough.

In a recent interview with Federal News Network, Robert Woods, the Chief Information Security Officer at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, made this very point:

“My passion for this particular issue is about trying to help every cybersecurity professional across our field…to be more effective in their jobs, because ultimately we, the cybersecurity field, have to work through other people, other teams to get things done.”

Soft Skills to Highlight

So, if you’re applying for a new job, think about the soft skills you have that might help you stand out.

Many soft skill lists begin with communication. LinkedIn describes it this way: “Being able to communicate your ideas, views, and opinions concisely so people can understand what you are sharing.”

Communication has become even more important as leaders look to make their organizations more diverse, equitable and inclusive, said Georgene Huang, co-founder and CEO of Fairygodboss, an online career community, in an interview with CNBC.

“To be a diverse and inclusive employer,” Huang said, “you have to work with all different kinds of people, which means you have to be able to communicate effectively with all different kinds of people.”

Here are some other soft skills that are essential to the future of work, according to LinkedIn:

  • Critical thinking
  • Judgment/complex decision-making
  • Emotional intelligence/Empathy
  • Creativity
  • Collaboration/teamwork
  • Adaptability/flexibility — Having an adaptable mindset and being open to shifts in the workplace
  • Cultural intelligence/diversity consciousness
  • Ethical awareness

You can find the full list here.

How to Make Your Case

A recent article in Forbes, written for laid-off tech workers looking for new jobs, recommends studying job descriptions with soft skills in mind: Even if they are not called out, which soft skills might be important to that particular role? More important, which soft skills do you have that might fit that role?

Then weave those soft skills into your cover letter and resume and bring them up in the job interview itself, always offering concrete examples.

“Soft skills such as communication, critical thinking, problem-solving, teamwork, and worth ethic are highly transferable between industries and can often be the difference between you receiving job interviews and offers or not,” the article states.

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