What are Soft Skills and Why are They So Important?

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Sometimes the best tools for your career are those that you gain outside of the rigors of the classroom.

Known simply as soft skills, they are the abilities and traits that relate to personality, attitude, and behavior. They are important in getting, and keeping, a job.

“Employers are coming to us and saying ‘we’re looking for people with soft skills that know how to get to work on time, dress appropriately, and conduct themselves professionally,’” said Marquita Tittle, director of Northeast State’s Office of Career Services. “Without soft skills, it’s almost impossible to land – or keep – a job nowadays.”

Good examples of soft skills include

• Time management

• Leadership

• Creativity

• Communication skills

• Problem solving skills

• Positive attitude

• Flexibility

You should emphasize your soft skills strengths on resumes, cover letters and during job interviews, Tittle said.  While these abilities might seem too simple to point out, they can mean the difference between two applicants who have similar backgrounds.

“Candidates who convincingly display these skills are always going to have a sizable edge in the hiring process,” Tittle said.

A good way to gauge your soft skill level is to think about ways that illustrate your abilities to communicate, solve problems, and deal with conflict. For example:

• Describe a difficult boss or employee you had to work with and how you handled the situation.

• Describe a time when you worked with a team and how your contributions contributed to the team’s success.

• Tell how you prioritize your time and activities, and discuss a specific time when you to rearrange your schedule when an emergency arose.

Once you land a job, keep your soft skills at the forefront. Tittle said employers view these characteristics as essential to the success of an employee:

• Problem solving – think logically, creatively, and be open to new ideas.

• Ethical behavior – be honest, respectful, and treat others as you wish to be treated.

• Work ethic – arrive on time, work hard, and meet deadlines.

• Team work – cooperate, pull your weight, and work for the good of all.

“It’s important to evaluate yourself and ask: ‘Would you hire you?’” Tittle said. “Once you have identified your strengths, work on those areas of improvement. That will improve your interviews and, once you’re hired, make you more valuable as an employee.”

Tittle said the Career Services Office offers workshops throughout the year to help applicants get up-to-speed with resume writing, interviewing, and career fair networking. To schedule an appointment with Career Services, contact the Career Services
office at 423.354.5167 or

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