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The Top 10 Soft Skills Most Valued by Companies

Essential Soft Skills for Thriving in the Workplace and Their Impact on Career Advancement. This article explores the ten key soft skills sought by employers and their influence on professional success, providing a practical overview of career growth.

Table of Contents:

  1. The Growing Importance of Soft Skills in the Professional World
  2. Differences Between Soft Skills and Hard Skills
  3. The Preferred Soft Skills by Companies in 2024
  4. Continuous Learning of Soft Skills at the Heart of HR Strategy
  5. How to Measure the Impact of Soft Skills on Performance
  6. Integrating Soft Skills into the CV and During Interviews

Article Highlights:

  • Soft skills, now valued more highly than hard skills by 77% of employers, are essential for employees to adapt to an ever-evolving professional environment.
  • Skills such as emotional intelligence, complex problem-solving, and team management are crucial for successfully navigating daily and strategic challenges in businesses.
  • Continuous learning of soft skills and the ability to measure them are strategic for individual and organizational performance, influencing HR programs and employee value.

The Growing Importance of Soft Skills in the Professional World

soft skills en entreprise

Significant shifts in the work environment have elevated soft skills to a primary focus in recruitment. Once secondary, these skills are now a priority for 77% of employers. Jeff Weiner, former CEO of LinkedIn, highlights this revaluation by emphasizing recruiters’ preference for soft skills over hard skills. This change is driven by the increasing need for versatile and adaptable employees capable of navigating more cross-functional roles within companies. Indeed, the selection of a candidate is based 60% on their soft skills, with some recruiters considering them the top criterion for hiring.

Differences Between Soft Skills and Hard Skills

Hard skills and soft skills are two distinct categories of essential competencies in the professional world, but they differ significantly in their nature and application.

Hard Skills

Hard skills are technical and specific to a job or industry. They are usually acquired through formal education, professional training, or work experience. These skills are measurable and verifiable, often evidenced by diplomas, certifications, or professional titles. Examples of hard skills include:

  • Proficiency in a programming language (e.g., Python, Java)
  • Accounting or finance skills
  • Use of specific software (e.g., Photoshop, Excel)
  • Knowledge of a foreign language
  • Project management
  • Data analysis.

Soft Skills

In contrast, soft skills are interpersonal and behavioral skills. They are less tangible and more challenging to measure than hard skills. Soft skills are often linked to a person’s personality and character traits, playing a crucial role in how someone interacts with others and adapts to their work environment. Examples of soft skills include:

  • Effective communication
  • Teamwork ability
  • Time management
  • Conflict resolution
  • Adaptability and flexibility
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Creativity.

Importance and Complementarity

Hard skills and soft skills are complementary and essential for success in the professional world. Hard skills enable the execution of specific technical tasks, while soft skills facilitate collaboration, problem-solving, and the creation of a positive work environment. Employers often seek a balance between these two types of skills because hard skills can become obsolete with technological advancements, whereas soft skills are more enduring and transferable across different fields.

In summary, hard skills are technical and measurable abilities, while soft skills are interpersonal and behavioral competencies. Both types of skills are crucial and complement each other to ensure professional success and adaptability in a constantly evolving work environment. These skills will undoubtedly be major assets in your life, career, and future interviews. HR professionals pay close attention to these elements during interviews.

hard skills vs soft skills

The Preferred Soft Skills by Companies in 2024

1 – Flexibility and Adaptability

Flexibility is crucial for quickly adjusting to changes and unforeseen challenges. In the corporate world, this translates to the ability to learn new skills, reconsider situations from different perspectives, and make informed decisions even during uncertainty. Employers particularly value this skill as it ensures rapid adaptation to new technologies and market fluctuations. “Being able to adapt to unforeseen situations or organizational changes is vital in an ever-evolving work environment.”

2 – Leadership and Team Management

Leadership goes beyond simple team management. A good leader inspires, motivates, and creates a shared vision. The ability to balance autonomy with necessary support, foster collaboration, and maintain effective communication is essential. “The ability to unite and motivate teams, as well as to make effective decisions, is crucial for achieving company objectives.”

3 – Autonomy and Initiative

Autonomy reflects the ability to manage one’s work efficiently without constant supervision. This includes time management, taking initiatives, and achieving goals independently. “Being able to manage one’s work autonomously, identify priorities, and make quick decisions is a key skill, especially for managers.”

4 – Empathy and Team Spirit

Empathy and team spirit are crucial for harmonious working relationships. Understanding and supporting colleagues enhances cohesion and collaboration. “The ability to work effectively with others, actively listen, and show empathy is essential for collective success.”

Esprit d'equipe

5 – Decision Making and Complex Problem Solving

Knowing how to make wise decisions and act confidently is fundamental. Using structured decision-making techniques, such as brainstorming and mind mapping, allows for methodical problem-solving. “The ability to analyze situations and find suitable solutions is essential. This skill is particularly sought after in engineers, managers, and profiles working with data.”

6 – Stress Management and Resilience

“Stress management and resilience are essential skills for maintaining well-being at work.” Adopting a growth mindset, staying positive, and setting realistic goals are effective strategies. “Being able to manage stress and remain effective under pressure is a highly appreciated skill.”

7 – Communication

Clear and effective communication is indispensable. This includes not only the ability to express ideas understandably but also to listen actively and offer constructive feedback. “Good communication strengthens collaboration and prevents misunderstandings.”

8 – Critical and Analytical Thinking

“Critical thinking involves evaluating information objectively and making decisions based on rational analyses.” This skill helps identify biases, test hypotheses, and develop well-founded solutions. “Being able to construct a critical reasoning and draw logical conclusions from available information is crucial.”

9 – Creativity

Using imagination to find innovative solutions is highly valued, especially in new technology sectors and start-ups. “The ability to solve problems creatively and effectively is highly prized. This involves analyzing situations, identifying underlying causes, and proposing innovative solutions.”

10 – Emotional Intelligence

This skill encompasses the ability to recognize, understand, and manage one’s own emotions as well as those of others. A person with high emotional intelligence can navigate interpersonal relationships skillfully, show empathy, and maintain a positive attitude even in stressful situations. They are also capable of resolving conflicts constructively and fostering a harmonious and collaborative work environment. Ultimately, emotional intelligence contributes not only to personal fulfillment but also to the efficiency and cohesion within teams, making organizations more resilient and adaptive to the changing challenges of the modern world.

intelligence émotionnelle

Continuous Learning of Soft Skills at the Core of HR Strategy

Continuous learning of soft skills is strategic for the development and maintenance of employee competitiveness. Employees who have participated in soft skills development programs show a 12% increase in productivity. Intellectual agility and continuous learning are therefore crucial skills in an ever-evolving work environment.

Training managers on autonomy at work and collaborative decision-making is particularly important to reinforce these skills within teams. Courses on time management and other soft skills training can teach effective techniques essential for acquiring and improving “soft skills” such as communication and emotional intelligence.

How to Measure the Impact of Soft Skills on Performance

Measuring the impact of soft skills on performance is a challenge, but there are effective tools such as evaluation grids and psychometric tests. These instruments, combined with self-assessment and feedback from managers and peers, can provide valuable insights into individual soft skills. The ability to resolve conflicts, for example, is a soft skill whose impact on organizational efficiency can be significant if more employees possess it.

These assessment methods not only help identify areas for improvement but also recognize and value the behavioral skills that contribute to the overall performance of the company.

Integrating Soft Skills into the CV and During Interviews

In the recruitment process, effectively highlighting soft skills can make all the difference. It is therefore essential for candidates to know their strengths and articulate them clearly, drawing on concrete experiences. A candidate’s authenticity and unique personality are assets that allow employers to better appreciate their behavioral skills.

Candidates should be able to share specific examples of situations where they have demonstrated soft skills such as empathy or stress management. These examples provide tangible illustrations of behavioral competencies during interviews and can help recruiters assess their potential.

Summary of the Article

This journey through the universe of soft skills reveals their pivotal role in today’s professional world. Mastering these soft skills is no longer an option but a necessity for thriving and succeeding in a company. They form the foundation on which a solid, adaptive, and innovative career is built. Whether through continuous learning or by highlighting them during recruitment, soft skills are true allies of your professional development. Let them be the springboard to your future successes. Discover without delay our range of soft skills training programs at ITTA.

Soft skills training
About the author

ITTA is the leader in IT training and project management solutions and services in French-speaking Switzerland.

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