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What Are Soft Skills? 10 Examples Employers Look For

If you want to make an impact and create influence at work, you’ll need soft skills. Leaders and managers want to hire people with soft skills as well as the technical hard skills needed to do the job. But even if you feel like your soft skills aren’t up to snuff, there’s good news! You can learn to master them and grow in your career with personal development.

For now, let’s focus on the top 10 soft skills employers look for—plus examples of how these skills play out at work.


Key Takeaways

  • Soft skills are the abilities that help you connect with others and manage yourself as you do your job. Hard skills are technical abilities that get the job done.
  • When it comes to soft skills, people have different strengths. But you can learn to improve any soft skill with practice.
  • Hiring managers love to see evidence of strong soft skills, so list your strengths on your resumé and cover letter when you’re applying for jobs.

What Are Soft Skills?

All right, first things first. What are soft skills? They’re interpersonal traits that affect how you interact with your team. Soft skills really come down to how you own your job responsibilities and work with other people.

Why are soft skills so important? Because they show hiring managers how you engage with others and how you carry yourself as you do your work day to day. They give leaders an idea of your strengths as a team player in addition to your hard skills, which focus on technical job responsibilities, like accounting, writing, project management or computer skills.

And while some of us are born with stronger interpersonal or self-management skills than others, we can all learn how to master these abilities. (For example, if you’re a little hardheaded when it comes to receiving constructive criticism, you can learn how to be more coachable.)

Soft Skills Employers Look For—10 Examples

Now that we’ve covered what soft skills are, let’s name some specific ones employers value at work. I’ve identified a list of the top 10 soft skills leaders and hiring managers are looking for. These traits are must-haves if you want to be well-liked and effective at work beyond your technical abilities. Remember, if any of these traits don’t come easily to you, that’s all right. You can learn how to sharpen these soft skills to create a winning personal brand. Here’s a list of soft skills you’ll want to focus on developing:


Communication is all about how you share ideas with others. Do you speak and write in an understandable way, no matter who you’re working with? Do you have friendly body language? These all play into effective communication.

Examples of communication:

  • Listening
  • Articulating thoughts and presenting ideas
  • Understanding different communication styles

Time Management

Time management refers to how you’re able to use your time wisely to accomplish your tasks and meet priorities.

Examples of time management:

  • Planning tasks
  • Staying focused on your priorities
  • Meeting deadlines

Work Ethic

Work ethic is about how dedicated you are to being excellent in the small things. And I’d say it’s the soft skill you have the most control of. Things like showing up every day, giving your best effort, and finding ways to improve show a strong work ethic.

Examples of work ethic:

  • Being on time
  • Completing tasks better than expected
  • Keeping at it even through difficulties and challenges


There’s no “I” in team, and I’m sure you’ve heard that before. But it’s true. Teamwork is all about how you contribute to the positivity and success of a group and offer help and encouragement to different personalities.

Examples of teamwork:

  •  Building rapport and trust
  •  Sharing resources and information
  •  Taking on different roles to achieve team goals

Problem Solving

Problem solving is just what it sounds like. Do you take the reins and fix what’s broken or what could be improved without being asked? Are you on the lookout for opportunities to make projects run smoother? That’s what problem solving is all about.

Examples of problem solving:

  • Identifying root causes of problems
  • Brainstorming solutions
  • Implementing solutions for better outcomes


Being adaptable means your feathers don’t get ruffled easily. You can roll with the punches and switch gears when unexpected changes come up.

Examples of adaptability:

  • Switching priorities quickly
  • Working in different environments with different people
  • Learning new skills


Leadership doesn’t mean bossing people around—it means creating excellent work by bringing out the best in the people you work with.

Examples of leadership:

  • Providing guidance for teams and projects
  • Making strong decisions
  • Creating a healthy culture

Emotional Intelligence

Simply being aware of the people around you is a key part of emotional intelligence. Can you pick up on other people’s feelings and find out what inspires or drains them? Cluing into these parts of relationships is the key to building strong emotional intelligence.

Examples of emotional intelligence:

  • Showing empathy
  • Inspiring motivation
  • Giving encouragement


You don’t have to be a piano-playing virtuoso to be considered creative. Creativity comes in many forms, whether you work with computers or art or people. In what ways do you make new things or see existing situations differently?  

Examples of creativity:

  • Looking at problems from different angles
  • Developing new processes
  • Designing original materials

Conflict Resolution

Most people don’t like conflict, but being able to address differences of opinion or competing goals is part of helping a team operate well. Think about how you’ve helped smooth over tricky situations.

Examples of conflict resolution:

  • Negotiating positive outcomes
  • Staying calm under pressure
  • Understanding different points of view

Why Are Soft Skills Important?

Soft skills are important because they give people an idea of how you’ll fit into the social mix at work, and they tell others what kind of team player you are. And when you think about everyone in the company, their combined people skills contribute to the culture of the whole team.

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When you’ve got strong soft skills, you build trust, give others a hand, and show that you can take direction—and improve on your weaknesses. As a result, you’re more likely to create a positive influence on those around you. These are all behaviors that contribute to healthy work relationships—rather than a hostile work environment—and can even help you get a promotion. By strengthening your soft skills, you’ll set yourself up for plenty of opportunity to advance in your career.

How to Improve Soft Skills

Maybe you feel pretty confident in your soft skills already. That’s great. But if some of your soft skills need a little sharpening, you can read books, listen to coaching podcasts, watch YouTube videos, or find a mentor at work who’s strong in the skills you want to develop. Most importantly, you need to believe you can change and improve, and then practice what you learn. Even if you feel some anxiety about breaking out of your comfort zone to build these skills in real life, believe me . . . improving in these areas will pay off in ways you can’t even imagine.

How to Add Soft Skills to a Resumé

When you’re applying for jobs, it’s just as important to highlight your soft skills as it is to note your hard skills. Hiring managers want to see some self-awareness and people skills described in your application. Here are two tips for demonstrating interpersonal strengths on a job application or resumé.

Match your skills to the job posting.

If a company is hiring an empathetic leader who’s good at developing and growing employees, you’ll want to highlight your skills around recognizing and drawing out other people’s strengths—if those are your strengths. Always be honest about your skills and focus on describing the things you’re good at that match what’s needed for the role.

Describe your skills and strengths in your cover letter.

Cover letters—if they’re required for your job application—offer a great opportunity for you to go into more detail about your passions and strengths and exactly why you’d make a great fit for the role. Use this space to share more details about the results you’ve achieved using your soft skills, rather than simply listing them like you would on a resumé.

Ken Coleman Resume Templates

Career Coach and bestselling author Ken Coleman put together five easy-to-use templates to help you build your perfect resumé.

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About the author

Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman is the author of the national bestselling book From Paycheck to Purpose and the #1 national bestseller The Proximity Principle. He hosts The Ken Coleman Show, a caller-driven show that helps listeners find the work they’re wired to do. Ken also co-hosts The Ramsey Show, the second-largest talk radio show in America, and makes regular appearances on Fox News and Fox Business. Through his speaking, broadcasting and syndicated columns, Ken gives people expert advice, providing strategic steps to get clear on their unique purpose and grow professionally. Learn More.

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