Soft skills are increasingly sought after in the world of work and can make all the difference to your professional success-here's what they are, why they are important, and a list of the 9 most in demand today.

Heh, I know: years and years hunched over books studying, only to realize that a bachelor's degree with honors, complete with internships, specializations, and what-have-you, are not enough when it comes to succeeding in the working world. 

No, experience and professional references are also not enough.

"Solid" credentials and "technical" knowledge are certainly a great place to start...but then what?

Think about, what do I know, a dentist: it is clear that he has to know how to treat a cavity (and he has to do it well too considering the importance of our teeth); but all things being equal, thus leaving out accuracy and reliability, which one would you go to? The one who listens to your doubts and responds accurately, or the one who treats you like a number on a list of mouths to be healed?

Needless to say, I can imagine the response....

Here, in situations like this, what makes the difference and allows you to stand out from the crowd is them: the soft skills. 

"Soft" and "transferable" skills that have to do with one's personal and social skills: intangible but important qualities that enable you to work and interact effectively with the people around you.

Have you ever heard of them?

Motivation and time management, leadership and open-mindedness, communication skills and emotional intelligence--just to name a few!

They can make the difference between convincing people to believe in you or being forgotten, between carrying out a project or seeing it rejected, between getting a promotion or being sidelined once again. In practice, their acquisition and mastery can be a real tipping point In your career.

In an increasingly digital and automated world, they make human contributions unique and irreplaceable.Employers often desperately demand them, complaining that millennials, high school graduates, college graduates or simply "young people" do not possess them... 

But what exactly are they? More importantly, which ones are needed to be successful?

Let's find out right now: here's What soft skills are, why they are important, and a list of the 9 most in demand.

What are soft skills?

Imagine you are a company that makes something, say light bulbs. You come up with a revolutionary new technology that makes your bulbs suddenly better than others; so you sell more (and make more money).

But, after a while, even your competitors discover it: maybe you license its use or they create similar alternatives. The fact is that the bulbs are all the same again, and of course your profits suffer. What can you do? Find a new competitive advantage, in something different; it could be, for example, excellent customer service.

No, not that you have to get into selling light bulbs-this example is just for me to make you understand the difference between hard skills and soft skills.

Le hard skills are like your technology: anyone can acquire them, with training, and they are always needed as a first asset; soft skills, however, provide you with a competitive advantage, in work and perhaps in life.

But what exactly are they?

Le soft skills are those core skills sought after in every profession, which do not have to do with your technical know-how and are not dependent on your acquired knowledge.

They consist of a mix of social, interpersonal and communication skills, character traits, attitudes, professional attitudes and mindset, as well as social and emotional characteristics. Teamwork, patience, time management, communication, are just a few examples. They may be traits that are proper to your personality or that you have obtained through life experiences.

They define your relationships with other people and the way you approach life and work: they include good judgment, the ability to relate to others, and a positive and flexible attitude. They enable you to work well in teams, perform well and achieve your goals.

Hard skills, on the other hand, are the skills "specific" to that job, developed after months or years of education, training, certifications and professional experience. They are the bare minimum needed to work in that particular field; however, as I told you, they are not enough on their own to guarantee you a solid and prosperous career.

Why are soft skills important?

Experience and knowledge are essential in any profession, but in recent years, more people than ever before have begun to realize the importance of other skills in determining the level of one's success.

Soft skills help you work more effectively in your chosen career, build strong professional relationships, acquire authority and to meet the challenges that arise at work.

Think about it: you may be very good at winning new customers, but not at retaining them; you may have many managers on your team, but no leaders--what makes the difference, again?

That's right, soft skills.

So here are some reasons why they are so important:

They make you long-lived

Being able to resolve conflicts, show commitment and motivation can make you a long-term asset to any company-if you demonstrate capacity for growth, there will be no need to replace you with someone else.

They allow you to be part of a team

Regardless of how great your technical knowledge is, you need to be a team player to use it effectively: if you demonstrate communication skills, flexibility, and active listening you have a better chance of fitting well into a group dynamic.

They consolidate relationships

Soft skills not only support your relationships in the workplace, they determine your success with clients and business partners. Certain qualities make the difference between someone who is qualified for a task and someone who exceeds expectations; they are critical to creating and growing your network of professional relationships.

They help you grow

Most soft skills contribute to your ability not only to use well the skills you already possess, but also to develop and grow them consistently over time. 

They improve reputation

Soft skills affect your reputation as much as they do that of your company or business: they determine how you interact with customers and business partners, your ability to mediate conflict and handle any problematic situation in a timely manner.

The 9 most in-demand soft skills: the list

Now, it is obvious that there are no skills that are more important than others absolutely: it always depends on the type of work, the context and the goals you set for yourself.

But there are some that tend to be more desirable and play a more critical role in building your career and success. In fact, know that there is no clear distinction separating them from each other: each soft skill is necessarily linked to others that are complementary to it.

However, if you are wondering what soft skills are most in demand today, in 2022... 

Well, here they are!

soft skills

#1 Emotional Intelligence

Here we are talking about being able to recognize and manage one's own emotions as well as those of others. It is a skill that encompasses several, including motivation, empathy, awareness. In practice, it also means knowing how to build positive relationships and rapport with other people and give/receive effective and constructive feedback.

#2 Work Ethics

You cannot succeed if you are not willing to devote resources and energy to achieving your goals. This soft skill has to do with how you know how to manage your time, working under pressure and organizing yourself in every situation as efficiently as possible. Basically, it is the ability to complete your tasks in the time available to you.

You can think of it more as an attitude: a strong work ethic will help you develop a positive relationship with your employer and colleagues, even when you are still developing technical skills for that role. Many people prefer to work with someone who is eager to learn, rather than someone who is qualified but unmotivated.

#3 Communication

This is definitely a evergreen: knowing how to convey or share your ideas effectively also involves knowing how you should talk to others according to the circumstances. If you have strong communication skills, you can build long-term relationships and avoid misunderstandings by speaking your mind without creating conflict, thus improving the functioning of any work environment.

#4 Leadership

The ability to leadership is especially required to take a leadership role when needed, but not only that. It also includes the ability to manage your people, motivate others, and delegate work. It is highly valued and sought after for two reasons: it is associated with greater initiative and a propensity to invest yourself in helping the company grow; it allows you to advance your career and earn better positions.

#5 Adaptability

How easily do you adapt to change? In many modern industries, related for example to technology, this is a particularly important skill. Work environments change constantly and rapidly, whether in processes, tools, or customers: new team members join, old ones leave, companies are bought or sold, and so on. 

Best to avoid complaints: it is important not only to accept change as a given in an ever-changing world, but to welcome it as an opportunity to try new strategies to thrive.

#6 Active Listening

People often think that a good communicator only knows how to speak in public. But in fact, he also knows how to do something most others don't: listen. Think about it: you yourself can probably sense the difference between someone who hears the words you're saying and someone else who's going to listen carefully. That's why the easiest way to build trust with someone is to show genuine interest in them, grasping details and offering clarification and effective answers.

#7 Growth mindset

We all face obstacles at some point: if these you cannot avoid, you can, however, control how you react. This is a skill that is critical to your ability to persevere: it allows you to view the failure to achieve a goal as an opportunity to identify your strengths and weaknesses, preparing you for the next one.

#8 Teamwork

Teamwork skills are needed to be productive even when sharing tasks and goals with other people. They are basically interpersonal skills, related to most of those seen so far (leadership, communication, listening). If you think about it, it is a soft skill that you have been working on, unknowingly, since your first day of school, when you were playing with your friends. They involve knowing how to manage an effective and inclusive meeting, being open to new ideas, and working respectfully toward others.

#9 Creativity and problem solving

Creativity can be used in any role at any level, but it gives you a big hand especially when it comes to finding the solution to a problem. Being able to analytically and creatively solve a complicated situation, perhaps while having limited resources at your disposal, is useful regardless of your job. When you're struggling, focus on what you have at your disposal: often the best ideas arise just when there seems to be no way out.

Conclusion

What do you think?

Yes, soft skills are really important: they distinguish you from being "ordinary" to being a "high performer" in your field. They affect the way you build relationships, work in teams, and ultimately do your job.

Now, mind you, don't fall into the trap: if you feel particularly "weak" in one or more of these skills, it doesn't mean you are not good at what you do.

Each of us has skills and flaws: the important thing you know what it is? Realizing this!

If you are aware of the soft skills you possess, you are able to make the most of them in any situation, but also to ask for help, advice and guidance when you need it.

Another thing: This list is obviously not exhaustive; however, let's say that it already gives you an idea of the most critical ones.

The good news is that you can learn and develop them like any other technical skill; the bad news is that it is often much harder to do so, and there is no easy measure that estimates your level for each.

But don't give up: what matters is your predisposition and openness to others and toward what they can convey to you. Focus on relationships and go from there to build your success.