It used to be that hard skills were valued more than soft skills in the workplace. But that has changed significantly over the last several years. According to Rohan Rajiv, Director of Product Management at LinkedIn, “Foundational soft skills have become even more important given the rise of remote and autonomous work, and are growing in importance across industries, levels and work environments. In fact, these soft skills were featured in 78% of jobs posted globally over the last three months.” But it’s not just about recruiting employees with the right transferable skills. Companies are also focusing on upskilling workers to address the social and emotional skills that are in high demand. As reported in a McKinsey survey, the proportion of companies addressing empathy and interpersonal skills doubled in 2020. Between 2019 and 2020, skills like leadership and management became a much bigger priority for most companies, jumping ten percentage points year over year, from 40% to 50%.
Soft skills generally refer to categories like leadership, communication and problem-solving. On the other hand, hard skills are the technical capabilities that can be quantified and measured. Typically, workers can acquire this knowledge through formal coursework, on-the-job training and real-world experiences. Based on recent LinkedIn data, “Hard skills can help you get a recruiter’s attention, but soft skills can help you land the job.” In fact, 45% of all LinkedIn Premium jobs posted within the past three months mention the importance of communication skills. And more than 61% of professionals say soft skills in the workplace are just as important as hard skills.
Clearly, soft skills are more in demand than ever. Let’s take a closer look at why and how you can leverage them to future-proof your career.
Soft skills provide career longevity
Technical capabilities can only take you so far in your career. To really soar, you need skills that are harder to measure but critical to success. In LinkedIn’s 2019 Global Talent Trends report, 89% of recruiters say that when a hire doesn’t work out, it usually comes down to a lack of soft skills. While most people are hired for their technical abilities, their soft skills give them “career durability,” says Alexandra Levit, author of Humanity Works: Merging Technologies and People for the Workforce of the Future. Levit defines that term as the ability to acquire the skills, knowledge and mindset needed to be an engaged and productive team member. “For someone to be successful ten years down the road, they need to be resilient and be able to reinvent themselves in different learning environments,” she adds.
Soft skills are highly transferable
Technical skills constantly change, but soft skills remain with you throughout your career. That’s because they are relevant, transferable and keep an individual highly employable. In addition, soft skills are desirable because if you already have them, your employer doesn’t have to train you on them. As a result, you can more easily hit the ground running and make valuable contributions. Rajiv adds, “While companies often offer training in required hard skills, soft skills provide the foundation on which to keep building other skills, which is why they’re so in demand now.” Because of their transferability, soft skills also make it easier to change careers, no matter what industry or company you want to pivot to.
Soft skills are essential for remote work
With companies shifting to hybrid or remote work models, soft skills have become just as important as technical knowledge. For example, effectively communicating and collaborating have become a top priority because those skills are vital to succeed in a virtual world. Also, with remote positions in high demand, the talent pool is increasingly crowded. Many job applicants will have similar qualifications and technical skills. By highlighting your soft skills, you’ll have a competitive edge so you can land the job you really want.
Since the pandemic, soft skills are no longer optional. Instead, they are essential to get hired and succeed in today’s workplace. By keeping them sharp, you’ll be able to stand out, remain competitive, and ultimately future-proof your career.