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What Exactly Are Soft Skills and Why Are They So Important?

Posted on the 26 October 2011 by Combi31 @combi31

What exactly are Soft Skills and why are they so important?

You may well have heard at least a passing reference to Soft Skills and their importance in the workplace, without fully realising the full scope of what they are, let alone how they play an important part in securing and maintaining employability.It’s a similar situation with a lot of buzz-words that rumble around the corridors at the workplace. Buzz-words such as emotional intelligence, social responsibility and neuro-linguistique programming to name but a few.

We have all surely heard them, but may not really know what they mean.  After all buzz-words are often little more than elitist and exclusive vocabulary for the in-crowd to underpin their exclusive expertise, aren’t they?

This may be the case in certain contexts, however, in the case of soft skills, it’s a buzz that sounds good and one that also makes a great deal of simple sense.

So what are Soft Skills?

Put very simply, if we consider hard skills, as the competences that get you the job – technical qualifications, exam results etc., then Soft Skills are those competences that ensure that you keep your job – team skills, task and time-management, communication etc.

Looking at it on these terms, it is fairly easy to separate the two, although it becomes increasingly clear that both Soft Skills and Hard Skills work in tandem to ensure the success of our careers.

The precept is that there is little use in being the best and most qualified engineer in the company if you are unable to present the fruits of your brilliance, or to motivate a team and communicate results clearly.

The jury is still out on whether all soft skills can be learnt or indeed trained, and some of the soft skills listed below by The Workforce Profile, may never have occurred to some of us as actually being no more than general education and savoir-vivre.

There may be a credible argument for soft skills being industry dependent, that is to say that some jobs require soft skills, whilst others don’t require the same level of soft skills.

For example a java coder, working alone developing lines of code may not require the same level of soft skill competences as a marketing or a sales director.

There are posts in the section “Soft Skills” that examine individual skills in greater detail – please leave your constructive comments or ideas.

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What exactly are Soft Skills and why are they so important?
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