Why do we need soft skills

Soft Skills: List Top10 + 30 examples and training

Soft skills are an essential success factor when applying and for a career. For years, employers and HR managers have been placing increasing value on “soft” skills. They not only complement the so-called hard skills. They contain interdisciplinary key competencies in dealing with other people and with yourself. But which soft skills are important? Especially in the application? We'll show you what's important - including a list of 30 examples of the most important skills and tips on how to learn them ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Definition: what are soft skills?

Soft skills encompass different abilities, characteristics and behaviors of a person. A distinction is made between methodological, social and personal (or “personal”) competencies. The latter are mainly reflected in how you deal with yourself.

In contrast to soft skills Hard skills are based on hard, verifiable abilities and qualifications, such as a degree, advanced training or a certificate. Language skills are also hard skills. These are usually proven by corresponding diplomas, grades or an assessment by the supervisor (see: qualified job reference).

The 3 types of soft skills

  1. Methodical skills
    These competencies help to solve tasks and problems or to acquire the necessary methods and skills. They are an essential prerequisite for acquiring hard skills.
  2. Social skills
    These skills help in dealing with other people. They are important in every interpersonal contact and determine how positive, sympathetic and harmonious the relationship or cooperation is perceived.
  3. Personal competencies
    This includes soft skills that relate to yourself and to be clear about yourself or your own goals.

Why are soft skills so popular?

The potential of a person is hidden behind the soft skills. Knowledge and skills can be acquired through learning. But they only lead to success in dealing with other people. In the end, soft skills contain what is known as employability - the general employability and long-term development potential of a person.

Soft skills list: 30 examples of important skills

There is no order in the sense of a ranking for the soft skills. The requirements of different industries, employers or situations are too different for that. Nevertheless, some skills and characteristics have emerged again and again that are particularly often sought and with which you can score points in most applications. The following soft skills list contains more than 30 of the most popular soft skills.

(We have linked in-depth articles on the soft skills examples.)

Methodical skills

Social skills

Personal skills

Hard skills

(Examples / selection)

  • Professional skills
  • Training / studies
  • Job qualifications
  • experience
  • Language skills / foreign languages
  • Certificates

Top10: The most important business skills

According to experts, ten characteristics are particularly decisive for a career - the so-called top skills (or "business skills"). Those who acquire and improve these soft skills have the best possible career opportunities.

  1. Own initiative
    Initiative ranks first in many HR surveys. Those who have this soft skill act independently, of their own accord. Or to put it casually: you don't have to carry these people to hunt. Such people also make quick decisions and take responsibility for their actions.
  2. Communication skills
    Communication skills are unfortunately often a buzzword that appears in many job advertisements and somehow contains everything. What is meant, however, is usually the strength to formulate messages clearly and distinctly, to interpret the signals of others or to convince in the meeting.
  3. Ability to work in a team
    The ability to work in a team is one of the top skills in professional life. Wherever people work together, they have to compete such as cooperate, debate and compromise. A team player is someone who deals constructively and considerately with others, remains respectful in the event of differences of opinion or is involved in the group and helps where necessary.
  4. Enthusiasm
    Those who enjoy doing their work are more successful. Such a person is full of enthusiasm for his work and is absorbed in it. Enthusiasm is the positive attitude that welcomes challenges and tackles them dynamically. It's a form of intrinsic motivation - and it can move mountains.
  5. Resilience
    Employers welcome a high level of resilience. It shows in the correct handling of stress. Resilient people can process, channel and balance this better - and know their limits.
  6. adaptability
    The ability to adapt quickly to new situations and challenges is understood. At work, this means changing behavior patterns or working styles quickly and flexibly if necessary (see: “survival of the fittest”).
  7. empathy
    Behind this lies the ability to recognize, understand and comprehend the thoughts, emotions or motives of the other person, to engage with them and to react appropriately. It's a kind of anticipatory emotional response. This makes empathy one of the essential career factors.
  8. charisma
    This strength gives people an almost magical aura, aura and attraction. Above all in management and external impact, charisma is seen as the engine that inspires, motivates and convinces others. It even makes some brands.
  9. Intercultural Competence
    Most companies now operate internationally and have locations abroad. Or a diverse workforce from different cultures and nations. It is therefore important to adapt to the respective cultural backgrounds and mentalities. Intercultural competence can respect differences, consider special features and show consideration.
  10. Assertiveness
    It is not meant to win every discussion. The soft skill means real persuasiveness and implementation strength. One could also speak of goal orientation. Assertiveness is the ability to perceive, pursue and stand up for one's own interests, goals and intentions - even against resistance.

Soft skills and hard skills in the application

In order to score points in your application, you need to combine soft skills and hard skills.

When applying in writing However, the focus is first on the hard skills. The résumé forms the backbone of this. It contains all the important mandatory qualifications from the job advertisement. If they are missing, an applicant hardly has a chance at the job. The hard skills ultimately confirm whether the candidate is technically capable of doing his or her later tasks.

The written application is only the first part in the application process. The interview follows him. And applicants skip this hurdle thanks to relevant soft skills. In the job interview, HR professionals are primarily interested in ...

  • Team spirit and ability to work in a team
  • Passion for the job
  • Willingness to learn
  • Communication skills
  • Ability to deal with conflict and criticism
  • Resilience
  • Self-motivation
  • the proverbial chemistry that has to be right.

All of these characteristics make applicants stand out from the crowd and make their personality exciting, individual and unique. Often, pronounced soft skills can outperform the better technical competencies of other candidates. You are therefore a clear competitive advantage.

Soft skills application: Which ones should you name?

Short answer: Far from all that you own. "A lot helps a lot" is not true in the application. In fact, it is not the quantity that matters, but the quality of the soft skills. Therefore, you should choose exactly what you mention in your cover letter and resume in tabular form:

  • Focus on strengths
    When applying, focus on your five greatest strengths. Of course, you really should have these skills. So you still have to survive the trial period.
  • Name only relevant skills
    The application is all the more successful, the more precisely you align it with the desired job. For the soft skills this means: Only what is relevant for the position is mentioned. This results partly from the job advertisement, partly from the job description.
  • Demonstrate soft skills with examples
    "I am a team player, resilient, motivated ..." - a lot can be said. So that you score with the skills mentioned, you should provide examples in the cover letter. Keep it as brief as possible, but as specific as necessary. Words are taboo.

Formulations & Examples

  • “In order to retain customers in the long term, I proposed and implemented a project at my last employer that could increase customer satisfaction. I had a lot of fun doing this project on my own. In the end, I was able to increase customer satisfaction by 17 percent. "
  • “I also volunteer for an association that collects and sorts clothing donations. In addition to the good cause, what I particularly enjoy about the job is working with a large team and many different personalities. "
  • “Even during my studies, I was ready to give my all to achieve the best results. Only when I know that I have done my best, am I also satisfied with myself. "

Learning soft skills: tips for training

Soft skills are closely related to our character. Many of them are acquired and trained in childhood and adolescence. But soft skills can also be learned and trained in adulthood. For example through targeted coaching. Or in seminars and courses on self-management, time management, presentation techniques or rhetoric.

Most of the soft skills can also be practiced in everyday life. In self-coaching. However, your training requires time and perseverance. Similar to habits, you need daily practice for us to internalize them. The following tips will help you:

  • Identify deficits
    It always starts with self-analysis and self-reflection: What are my strengths? Which soft skills do I already master? What else do I want to work on? A potential analysis can also help. This gives you a solid starting point for your personal development.
  • Define goals
    In the next step, you look to the future. Ask yourself WHY you want to train methodological, social or personal skills. Perhaps it will increase your chances of applying to the assessment center. Maybe it will bring you closer to a promotion. Only with the goal in mind can you identify the soft skills that are relevant to you. Otherwise the training remains arbitrary and not focused.
  • Practice, practice, practice
    Small talk, for example, is a great way to work out over a cup of coffee or practice at a party. In turn, work on your ability to work in a team, reliability or goal orientation in sports or on private projects. Train to listen actively, try to motivate others, and give constructive feedback to friends or colleagues.
  • Prove perseverance
    The training of soft skills is a permanent process. Most skills improve and deepen through increasing life experience. Not overnight. So it is crucial that you develop a long-term perspective for the training.

All of this may sound like work, lifelong learning (which it is). But please make yourself aware: You will benefit from your soft skills for a lifetime! Not just in work life.

You deal with people in all life situations. With yourself anyway. Social skills and emotional intelligence are THE key skills of the 21st century. Investing in yourself here will help you enormously - personally and professionally.

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May 19, 2021Author: Jochen Mai

Jochen Mai is the founder and editor-in-chief of the career bible. The author of several books lectures at the TH Köln and is a sought-after keynote speaker, coach and consultant.

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