soft skills

What are soft skills and what are they used for?

Soft skills are vital for employers, so much so that a recent LinkedIn survey revealed that 92% of recruiters believe that soft skills are as important, if not more important, than technical skills when it comes to hiring the right candidate for a vacancy. But what exactly are these much sought-after soft skills, and how can they be so beneficial to the company? If you’re passionate about people and want to help transform the business world, find out more about our Master Ressources Humaines et conduite du changement and learn how to develop your skills to quickly take on a position of responsibility


What are soft skills?

Professional skills have often been associated with “hard skills”, i.e. the technical and academic skills we learn at school. These skills are, of course, essential if you want to do a specific job in marketing or finance, such as drawing up a business plan, launching a market study or analyzing an income statement. However, there is another type of skill that is just as essential for success in the world of work: soft skills.

Soft skills, also known as behavioral competencies, are personality traits, social characteristics and emotional aptitudes that influence the way we interact with others. Unlike technical skills, which refer to domain-specific knowledge, soft skills are more universal and can be applied to different fields and professions.

Soft skills encompass a wide range of competencies, including effective communication, problem-solving, critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, time management, flexibility, resilience, empathy and leadership, among others. These non-technical skills are often considered essential assets for success in the workplace.

Why are soft skills so important? Firstly, because they complement technical and academic skills. You may be an expert in your field, but if you can’t communicate effectively with colleagues, collaborate with other teams or solve problems creatively, your technical skills will be limited in scope.

What’s more, soft skills are increasingly sought after by employers. Nowadays, many companies place as much emphasis on behavioral skills as technical ones when hiring new employees. Employers are looking for candidates who can adapt quickly to change, work as part of a team, communicate clearly and innovate. Soft skills are solid indicators of a person’s ability to thrive in a dynamic, constantly evolving work environment.


Les soft skills sont également essentielles pour favoriser un environnement de travail positif et productif. Effective communication, for example, can prevent misunderstandings and conflicts, thus promoting harmonious collaboration within a team. The ability to problem-solve and think critically enables us to identify obstacles and find innovative solutions. Empathy and understanding of others help create strong relationships and a positive corporate culture.


What are the differences between soft skills and hard skills?

It’s often said that hard skills are about “know-how”, while soft skills represent a person’s “savoir-être”. Hard skills refer to specific, measurable knowledge in a given field. These are technical skills acquired through formal education, vocational training or practical experience. Common examples of hard skills include computer programming, accounting, project management, mastery of a foreign language, knowledge of specific software and so on.

Hard skills are generally tangible and easy to assess. They are often quantifiable and can be proven by certifications, diplomas or measurable results. These skills are essential for carrying out specific tasks in a given field. For example, a computer developer needs technical programming skills to create software applications.

Soft skills, on the other hand, are non-technical competencies linked to a person’s personality, social skills and emotional traits. They are harder to quantify because they are subjective and difficult to measure precisely.

The differences between hard skills and soft skills are not limited to their concrete (for hard skills) or subjective (for soft skills) nature. Hard skills are generally easier to acquire and demonstrate through specific training, while soft skills are harder to develop and often require continuous work on oneself.


Why do recruiters look for candidates with soft skills on their CVs?

Soft skills are much more indicative of future job performance than technical skills. They play an important role in the way a person approaches work-related tasks, builds relationships and communicates with colleagues and other stakeholders. Recruiters are looking for candidates who are confident, motivated, flexible, organized, passionate and friendly.

Soft skills demonstrate your understanding of the key characteristics that will contribute to your success within a company. They will reassure the recruiter of your ability to adapt to any situation and resist pressure.

In addition to fostering relationships at work, soft skills also contribute to your success with customers and business partners. To maintain a positive image, recruiters seek to surround themselves with employees capable of representing the company in a professional and friendly manner, whether at a distance, during business meetings or at corporate events.


What soft skills will be most in demand in 2023?

Soft skill 1: Critical thinking

The ability to solve problems creatively and think critically is a highly valued skill in all professional fields. Employers are looking for candidates who can analyze situations, identify obstacles and find innovative solutions. Problem-solving and critical thinking skills enable us to face complex challenges and make informed decisions.

Soft skill 2: Adaptability

Adaptability has become a crucial skill in an ever-changing world of work. Employers are looking for candidates who can adapt quickly to change, work effectively in dynamic environments and cope with uncertainty. Flexibility demonstrates the ability to learn new skills, accept new responsibilities and manage challenges effectively.

Soft skill 3: Empathy

Emotional intelligence, or empathy, encompasses the ability to recognize, understand and manage one’s own emotions, as well as those of others. Candidates with developed empathy are able to manage relationships effectively, foster a positive working climate and win the trust of colleagues and customers.

Soft skill 4: Team spirit

Collaboration and teamwork are essential skills in today’s professional world. Employers are looking for candidates who can work effectively with others, collaborate, exchange ideas and solve problems as part of a team. The ability to work well with others fosters a harmonious work environment and encourages creativity and innovation.

Soft skill 5: Leadership

Even for positions that are not explicitly managerial, leadership skills are increasingly sought after by employers. Candidates capable of taking the initiative, guiding and influencing others in a positive way are highly valued. Leadership demonstrates the ability to assume responsibility, inspire team members and contribute to the company’s growth.

Soft skill 6: Communication

Being able to communicate well remains one of the most fundamental and sought-after skills by employers. Candidates who are able to communicate concisely, both orally and in writing, are valued in all professional fields. Good communication facilitates collaboration, avoids misunderstandings and enables ideas and information to be passed on effectively.


How can soft skills be developed?

Developing soft skills is an ongoing process that requires commitment and practice. By using a combination of training, observation, active practice and reflection, however, it is always possible to strengthen behavioral skills.


The first step in developing your soft skills is to assess yourself honestly. Identify your strengths and weaknesses in terms of behavioral skills. Think about situations where you’ve used your soft skills successfully, as well as those where you could have improved them. This awareness will help you target the skills you want to develop.


Taking part in training courses, workshops or online courses focusing on soft skills development is a great way to strengthen your skills. Look for training opportunities in the specific areas you want to improve. These programs often offer practical advice, exercises and role-playing to help you develop your behavioral skills. You can also simply take your cue from people who excel in the soft skills you wish to develop, and draw inspiration from their practice to integrate them into the way you behave.


Put yourself in situations where you can practice the behavioral skills you want to improve. For example, if you want to improve your communication skills, increase your opportunities for public speaking and taking part in meetings.


Look for opportunities to broaden your experience and develop your soft skills. Get involved in cross-functional projects, take part in associative activities or take on additional responsibilities at work. These experiences will enable you to work with different people, learn to collaborate, solve problems and develop other behavioral skills.


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