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The Top 6 Soft Skills Employers Are Looking For

Published: Wednesday 29th April 2015

2 male and 3 female university students

Academic and professional qualifications are all important qualities to present to potential employers. But after showing you are more than qualified for a role, you may find you either aren’t being interviewed or given the role. If your qualifications and experience isn’t holding you back, what is? 

There are a lot of factors which could be contributing to your lack of success when job hunting. What is known is that applicants with fewer qualifications on their CV are sometimes chosen over more qualified candidates. Why? They possess a stronger set of ‘soft skills’ than more qualified candidates do. 

Recent surveys have reported that employers feel today’s school or university leavers enter the workplace without soft skills. ‘Soft skills’ aren’t specific to a role, or career path. They are transferable skills and attitudes which help candidates to work as part of an effective team and make a positive impact in the work place. 

Candidates may find they have these transferable skills hidden away – unlocking and adding them to your CV can make you a better candidate. 

Below is a list the top six soft skills employers mainly look for. 

Communication and Interpersonal Skills

Read the person specification for any vacancy. Close to the top will be communication skills. Good communication and interpersonal skills involve active listening – i.e. being engaged with what the person is saying and asking relevant questions. It also includes presentational skills and how well you can communicate an idea to colleagues and/or stakeholders. 

A skilled communicator gets on well with their colleagues, effectively understands instructions and can get their point across. Communication skills are even more useful in sales jobs or customer service jobs and roles where conflict resolution is important. 

Creativity and Problem Solving

This is a candidate’s ability to apply logical problem solving and creative thinking to solve issues which arise. It is highly valued by employers as a resource. Employers want to see that candidates can use their creative thinking to find new ways to approach a problem. 

This skill shows your ability to draw on past experience, information and current resources to solve a problem. Creativity is also important in finding new approaches to work and ways of thinking which are seen as out of the box.  

Time Management 

This isn’t just about getting up early and arriving for 9am. Time management refers to an employee, or candidate’s ability to balance different demands and effectively prioritise them. Time management is all around your ability to balance projects and workloads. Demonstrate how you can effectively identify and prioritise key tasks to meet imminent deadlines. If you are early on in your career, talk about how you prioritised work during your studies to effectively use your time. 

IT Skills

There was a time when IT skills sat at the top of your CV as a specialist skill set. Today it has become a soft skill simply because so many jobs and roles require competency in using computers and software. Almost every role will need some degree of IT literacy. A lot of candidates don’t include this as they think is it implied, however by including any computer programmes you are familiar with will demonstrate this soft skill. 

Ability To Work Under Pressure

Whatever role you are applying for there will be times in that job when you will be pushed hard and have to work under pressure. This could be working to a tight deadline or being tasked with several things at once. Employers need to know they can trust you will handle the stress which may be put on you and put it to one side whilst completing the tasks. 

Team Player

It almost seems a cliché these days to put ‘team player’ on your CV. After all who isn’t going to say they work well in a team? Try to expand on this by showing how you effectively support colleagues and your team achieve goals. Let the potential employer know you are open, honest and can give constructive feedback to others. 


For more job search tips visit our Zoek blog. Also, why not try our faster, smarter recruitment app to help you find your next job role, available to download for free on iPhone and Android.


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