Soft Skills: What are they and which were the most in-demand in 2020?
Skills, expertise, or talent are needed in order to do a job or complete a task. As varied as there are humans walking the earth, they can make the difference when searching for finding employment or solving problems around the house. Some might even help you relax once you turn them into a hobby.
Although each skill needs to receive recognition, especially on the 15th of July, the International Youth Skill Day, let’s turn our focus to a category that is equally beneficial in your professional life and your personal life. Enter soft skills.
Everyone who has applied for a job before has heard about soft skills at least once. Nowadays just being competent at your job and having previous work experience, seems to not be enough anymore. Employers are more and more looking beyond the simple hard skills of candidates before deciding if they are worth hiring. Often, other abilities might make the difference, especially if two candidates seem to be equally fitting for the job. But before we get more into that, let’s see what soft skills are.
What are hard and soft skills??
LinkedIn defines Hard skills as “an employee’s ability to do a specific task”. They include specialized knowledge and technical abilities and are often easier to define and measure than soft skills.
Soft skills, on the other hand, are more related to how a person is executing their task and are sometimes hard to measure. According to LinkedIn “Soft skills are more about behavior and thinking, personal traits and cognitive skills.”
So, how can your way of thinking affect your chances of being hired? It’s simple. Every role requires some interaction with others, whether they are your superiors, your colleagues, or customers. Knowing how to speak, when to speak, and how to choose your words for example can build or break the relationship you have with them. Building relationships and working well in teams is not only going to make your life as an employee easier, but it can also be a key factor in getting recognized.
So, you might think “Is working in a team the only extra skill I require? That is piece of cake!” Well… no. There is a multitude of soft skills which are not only sought after by employers but can even be a hiring criterion for certain positions. Each workplace is unique and each job opportunity comes with its set of challenges, but let’s take a closer look at the most in-demand soft skills of 2020.
What were the most sought-after soft skills in 2020??
The mix of skills most prized by the business world is ever-changing and can be confusing especially for young adults who recently graduated. Therefore, understanding what is in demand early on, can give you the edge you have been hoping for. It is hard to pinpoint the skills one must hone in order to get their dream job, however, let’s look at the 2020 trend on LinkedIn.
Creativity isn’t necessarily reserved for artists; it means being resourceful and innovative in finding solutions to problems at work. Thinking “outside the box” and offering a new, unique perspective in solving problems and difficulties is what drives a business forward.
Persuasion is the process of convincing someone else to carry out an action or agree with an idea. This skill is especially useful for employees who lead teams, as it might help them keep their colleagues motivated and influence them to perform well.
Good teamwork involves a combination of other soft skills; however, it is essential in almost all existing jobs. Good team players are perceptive, as well as receptive to the needs and responsibilities of others. Working in a team towards a common goal requires the intuition to know when to be a leader and when to be a listener.
Don't underestimate the ability to adapt to changes. The world is constantly evolving and introducing new technologies. Those who cannot adapt might be left behind. Companies welcome employees who can keep up with all their upgrades.
5. Emotional Intelligence
According to the LinkedIn article “In looking for soft skills, companies are focusing on candidates with emotional intelligence.” Emotional intelligence, as defined by author and science journalist Daniel Goleman, is “the ability to identify, assess and control one's own emotions, the emotion of others and that of groups.” Being able to empathize with your colleagues and act in a compassionate way towards them can greatly boost your relationship and lead to better teamwork.
Even though the above soft skills made it into the top 5, they are not the only ones you should be paying attention to. Of course, there are other valued soft skills like example time management, punctuality, or accountability as they are indicators of how responsible a person is. So, in the end, no acquired soft skill is less valuable than the other, but the trend in 2020 might give you an idea of what to try to improve if you are looking for a job in 2021.