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What are soft skills and how can they help you get a graduate job?

Lara Billington
Content Marketing Executive

Did you know that your skills can be categorised into hard and soft?

It's not as weird as it sounds. In fact, knowing the difference between hard and soft skills is important, and will help ensure you cover all bases when describing yourself (and your skills) in a job application. 

Here's a run down of what soft skills are and how they can help you get a job.

 

 

What are soft skills? 

Soft skills are personal attributes and behaviours that can be transferred over from job to job. Unlike hard skills, which are job-specific, quantifiable skills that are often learned during education or through training, soft skills can't necessarily be learnt. You will naturally possess certain soft skills and others are developed during social situations and through life experience.

Some examples of soft skills include: 

  • Teamwork
  • Leadership
  • Time management
  • Organisation
  • Good communication
  • Critical thinking 
  • Problem solving 

Everyone has soft skills of some kind, you just need to know how to pull out relevant ones for the job you're applying for and properly explain them. 

 

Are they important? 

Yes, they are. In fact, a Future of Jobs report published by the World Economic Forum in 2016 predicted that by 2020, problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, decision making and negotiation would be among the 10 most important skills in any workplace. 

So don't discount your soft skills when you come to write a CV or go for an interview - they're just as essential as hard skills and will often be listed in the job requirements. 

Your range of soft skills gives employers insight into how well you will work with others, follow direction, handle stress, liaise with clients, fit in with the rest of their team and more. Workplaces are interpersonal spaces; it doesn't matter how many technical qualifications you have, if you don't possess the right soft skills you'll fall short. 

 

How can you use them to get a job? 

As a student or graduate, you might not yet have all the relevant experience and technical skills required for a role - this is when soft skills become particularly important. 

If you're able to highlight some relevant soft skills that you perhaps gained at university, in a previous job or during an internship, and emphasise them in your CV, an employer is likely to be more convinced that you have what it takes to succeed in their role.

Determining your soft skills will take some thinking, it's not as simple as listing a bunch of skills and leaving it at that. Because they're harder to define than technical skills and cannot always explain themselves, it's important that for each soft skill you highlight, you provide examples of when you've demonstrated it. 

You should also only mention soft skills that are actually relevant to job you're applying for. Take some time to thoroughly read through the job requirements, pick out the skills they're asking for and tailor your application accordingly. If you need some extra help doing this, you can check out our free e-book on how to tailor your CV and cover letter right here.

 

Now you know what soft skills you can offer employers, why not start your job hunt? Check out our website for a range of student and graduate opportunities.