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Being skilled in today’s marketplace means something different than it did 10 or 20 years ago. Candidates are no longer being assessed solely on their “hard” skills, or their technical ability and know-how.

To stay competitive, job seekers must also demonstrate their proficiency in “soft” skills.

Historically underrated, soft skills refer to such attributes as effective communication, time management, problem solving, working with teams, selling, negotiating and overall working well with others.

While not a necessity in years past, hiring managers now say they base hiring decisions on a candidate’s soft skills.

If you’re looking for a new job or aiming for a promotion in the coming year, here are the top soft skills employers are looking for in 2020:


Even if you’re in a field that’s not typically thought of as creative (such as programming or business) the ability to think creatively is an enormous asset. Employers are looking for people who can think outside the box, who take concepts and apply them in fresh ways to real-life situations, and who can look at problems from different angles and continually come up with new ideas.


Regardless of your role, persuasiveness is a skill that will come in handy in any number of scenarios. For some people, their role is focused on persuasion: marketers and salespeople, for example, need to persuade customers to purchase their product or use their service. For others, persuasion might come into play in team projects or when presenting new ideas to management. You’ll need to be able to make your case, present compelling evidence, and ultimately persuade your team members or your boss to say yes.


More than ever, today’s professionals to need to have a strong ability to collaborate. Employers want employees who work well with others, who can compromise, who can set aside personal differences to complete a task, and who can form strong working relationships with all kinds of people across departments. Even if you prefer to work solo, you’ll more likely than not be called upon to contribute to a group project at some point in your career, so finding ways to adapt your working style to mesh well with others’ is key.


Employers appreciate it when their employees are flexible and adaptable. Professionals who can go with the flow – whether it’s in terms of learning new systems, changing processes, or taking on new responsibilities – will be valued by their organizations, and employers will often think of these employees when considering advancement opportunities or professional development, because these are the professionals with the demonstrated capacity to learn new things and feel most comfortable in new circumstances.

Time Management

Being able to manage your time effectively is essential in virtually every job and industry. Employers want to know their employees can meet deadlines and handle their workloads effectively – especially in busy and fast-paced work environments – and the ability to stay on top of things is important. You need to be able to juggle multiple assignments, prioritize, and delegate when necessary.

How to Build Soft Skills

So if you’re looking for a new job, or simply want to impress your current organization, how do you go about building this skillset?

One of the best ways is simply to find opportunities to practice them on the job. The great thing about soft skills is that many of them can be built with persistence and practice – you don’t need specific training to have them!

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