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The Top 5 Soft Skills Employers Look for in 2022

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In our fast-paced digital world, certain skill sets are coming to the fore as business-critical.

None more so than certain soft skills which can elevate workers into positions of maximum career development.

There has been an unending debate for years now about the efficacy of soft skills within workplaces. Indeed, as many millions of companies digitally transform in the wake of COVID-19, and as tech skills are in incredibly high demand, companies are struggling to get skilled operators into workplaces. So, in such a febrile environment of critical hard skills shortages in some of our most essential services, what place do soft skills have? Well, contrary to this narrative of skills shortages, soft skills are in more demand than ever, precisely because they provide not the hard skills to do any given task, but the right behavioural and cultural foundation to work towards business success come rain or shine, collaboratively, and with passion and purpose.

What are soft skills?

It’s worth doing a quick refresher on soft skills vs hard skills.

Soft skills consist of a combination of people, social, and communication skills, character traits, attitudes, and mindsets, as well as social and emotional characteristics, among others, which are sought for in all professions. Some examples of soft skills include:

  • Communication,
  • Teamwork,
  • Leadership,
  • Problem-solving

Hard skills are “Hard skills are learned abilities acquired and enhanced through practice, repetition, and education”. The value of soft skills in a post-pandemic workplace cannot be overstated - from risk mitigation strategy building to simple team communication and empathetic leadership, soft skills provide the scaffolding upon which businesses learn how to adapt and pivot in the face of a crisis.

So what are the top soft skills employers are looking for in 2022?

Time Management

Time management involves the ability to use your time wisely to work as efficiently as possible”. Time management is of extra importance when considering how disrupted the last 2 years have been. No company has been immune to the changes wrought by COVID, and almost everyone has had to make adjustments. Time management then stands as one of the most effective soft skills of 2022. Candidates must learn to leverage time management into their CV and interview strategy. They should focus on how adaptable and flexible they were with any changes to workflow during COVID-19, and how they showed initiative to change working patterns and priorities to meet the needs of the business.

Analytical Thinking and Innovation (problem-solving)

Workplace agility best manifests as analytical thinking and innovation. Problem-solving means more than simply finding a good outcome or a solution to an issue. It should incorporate analysis, forethought, and of course effective communication in how and why a certain course of action is warranted.

Being a Team Player

One for all, and all for one - a classic phrase that has more meaning and purpose now than ever. “To be a good team player shows that you can collaborate with colleagues to achieve an ultimate goal. Communication, empathy and collaboration as well as emotional intelligence are all necessary for good teamwork”. Employers want hires to be team-first in approach, and be able to prioritise team outcomes over personal ones. The ability of staff to band together to support a mutually held outcome is how companies succeed in such a disrupted working environment.

Show leadership

So we want to draw a line between being a leader, and showing leadership. Leaders are appointed bosses and seniors, who through tenure or skill have earned a place above others in the specific pecking order of a company, Showing leadership means providing your team, and your bosses, with examples of your maturity and critical thinking that aren’t exclusive to leading people, such as:

  • A positive attitude and outlook
  • The ability to make quick and effective decisions
  • Exemplary problem-solving or conflict-management skills
  • The ability to communicate effectively
  • An aptitude for both self-motivating and motivating others”.

"People with good leadership skills will have a range of skills that are useful in the workplace"

Show empathy

“Indispensable to other skills like assertiveness or conflict management, empathy is the act of putting yourself in other peoples’ shoes, which in turn helps to defuse misunderstanding and tension”. Empathy hasn’t only become an important soft skill since the advent of COVID - it's been a central component of effective management strategies for years, especially as teams have become more cognizant and reliant on effective mental health support within work. 

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