The term “soft skills” originated in a 1972 U.S. Army training manual which defined “soft skills” as “skills, abilities, and traits that pertain to personality, attitude, and behavior rather than to formal or technical knowledge.”
Hard vs Soft Skills
The prevailing opinion is that hard skills are easier to teach and measure. Our curricula emphasize content knowledge and hard skills, because they are easier to assess. Employers desire workers with a range of soft skills, because they also find it easier to teach the hard skills required for a job than to help employees develop soft skills. In fact, many consider soft skills, which are tied to personality and individual habits, as unteachable. They are not unteachable, but they are difficult to describe and quantify.
Look at the following list of hard and soft skills.
Fluency in Language
Preparing a Budget
The terms under hard skills are more specific and easier to demonstrate. They are on your university transcript and your resume. It’s easier to demonstrate that you know a programming language than to explain that you have the creative thinking skills that will allow you to produce innovative software. Soft skills, like the submerged part of an iceberg, sit below the surface. They are the foundation for success, but we find it difficult to talk about soft skills in detail and identify them in ourselves and others.
15 Soft Skills
On the Internet, you can find lists of hundreds of soft skills. We have decided to focus on the following 15 soft skills with the understanding that they must be described in tandem with linked skills, habits, and traits.
Team-oriented— skills, habits, and traits related to working well on teams and collaborating with others. Linked soft skills: collaboration, teamwork.
Creativity— skills, habits, and traits that allow one to see problems from different perspectives. Linked soft skills: open-minded, cognitive flexibility.
Critical Thinking— skills, habits, and traits to analyze a situation and come to a conclusion. Linked soft skills: problem solving, decision making, critical observer.
Persuasion— skills, habits, and traits to influence people to take action. Linked soft skills: influence, communication.
Listening— skills, habits, and traits to listen and understand what others are attempting to communicate. Linked soft skills: curiosity, patience, empathy, communication.
Professional Writing— skills, habits, and traits to write clear, concise, and complete text that communicates to a specific audience. Linked soft skills: analytical, detail oriented, communication.
Self-directed— skills, habits, and traits to motivate oneself to produce. Linked soft skills: motivation, work ethic, reflective, proactive.
Time Management— skills, habits, and traits organize and manage time in order to complete multiple activities. Linked soft skills: responsible, organized.
Inquisitive— skills, habits, and traits that make one interested in learning. Linked soft skills: proactive learning, life-long learner.
Adaptability— skills, habits, and traits related to the ability adjust to changes. Linked soft skills: flexible, inclusive, open-minded.
Service-oriented— skills, habits, and traits related to a preference for working with and serving people. Linked soft skills: empathy, inclusive, interpersonal.
Emotional Intelligence— habits and traits related to the ability to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions. Linked soft skills: self-awareness, motivation, empathy.
Integrity— traits of an honest person, with strong ethical principles. Linked soft skills: ethical.
Positive Attitude— habits and traits related to being friendly and eager to participate work activities. Linked soft skills: enthusiastic, patient, courteous.
Resilience— habits and traits related to a resolve to get the job done despite adversity. Linked soft skills: persistent, work ethic, adaptability.