Skip to main content
31 answers
32
Asked 1375 views

What is your career, and which soft skill has been the most important in your career journey?

This is part of our professionals series where we ask professionals what they think students should know

+25 Karma if successful
From: You
To: Friend
Subject: Career question for you

32

31 answers


4
Updated
Share a link to this answer
Share a link to this answer

Ryan’s Answer

My career is in Technology Management. Not sure why we call them soft skills when they take decades of practice and awareness to master. When I hire someone I always look for Emotional Intelligence (EQ) first because it takes much longer to train that skillset than the technical or hard skills required. Soft skills are also difficult to measure, they aren't as quantifiable, more subjective, and involve a complex interplay of emotions, thoughts, and behaviors.

Someone with high EQ typically has the capacity to recognize, understand, and manage their emotions and empathize with others, which is essential for navigating interpersonal relationships and handling conflicts at work. Individuals with high EQ can effectively convey their thoughts and ideas verbally and in writing, facilitating smooth communication within the team and with external stakeholders.

High EQ enables people to build and maintain positive relationships with colleagues, clients, and customers, fostering a collaborative and supportive work environment. Employees with good EQ can understand and relate to other's feelings and perspectives, which helps them anticipate needs, address concerns, and resolve conflicts constructively.

High EQ allows individuals to work well with diverse teams, adapt to different communication styles, and appreciate various perspectives, leading to better collaboration and overall team performance. Employees with high EQ are more likely to be successful leaders, as they can inspire, motivate, and influence others while managing their emotions and demonstrating empathy and understanding.

Research has shown that high EQ is linked to better job performance and increased productivity, as emotionally intelligent employees can manage stress, stay focused, and work well with others.

There are other "soft" skills that are important (communication, active listening, adaptability, teamwork, problem-solving, time management, leadership, creativity, and resilience). Still, I feel the gateway to mastering these is through EQ.
4
3
Updated
Share a link to this answer
Share a link to this answer

Stephanie’s Answer

Hello,

I am a teacher. I was a classroom teacher grades K - 8 and now a university professor. Listening is a skill I continue to work on and master. We have to listen carefully, process what we hear, and then respond. Sometimes we think we're listening, but we are actually thinking of our next response.

I had a class once that gave me a great comparison of "hearing" and "listening". Here's a good example I found on the Internet:

We use hear for sounds that come to our ears, without us necessarily trying to hear them! For example, 'They heard a strange noise in the middle of the night.'

Listen is used to describe paying attention to sounds that are going on. For example, 'Last night, I listened to my new Mariah Carey CD.'

So, you can hear something without wanting to, but you can only listen to something intentionally.

Bottom line - be intentional when you listen!
3
3
Updated
Share a link to this answer
Share a link to this answer

Amanda’s Answer

My career is in management consulting which provides clients with advice, solutions, and strategies to improve their organization.

I appreciate the question about soft skills. Each year I mentor a class of college interns who ask similar questions. So much attention is given to hard skills (specific, teachable abilities that can be defined and measured) because they are table stakes - minimum entry requirements - for obtaining a job. Soft skills, on the other hand, are those behaviors and work styles that enable you to work successfully as part of an organization. They are personally driven and relate to how you work with others. While hard skills will open opportunities, soft skills will enable your success and career trajectory.

It's difficult to narrow down soft skills to a single "most important" skill. To succeed in the workplace, you need to be able to work well with others at any level, collaborate with others to get things done, facilitate and participate in meetings and/or client visits, resolve conflicts, build relationships, accept criticism, communicate your message, and change perspectives (aka influence). Each of these is a critical soft skill.

Perhaps we should define "most important" as the soft skills that will give you an edge. Recent surveys show hiring managers think critical thinking (i.e., independent thinking and problem-solving), adaptability, and attention to detail are some of the largest gaps in graduates looking for employment. Personally, I have seen a gap in the art of asking questions - perhaps from fear of looking unknowledgeable.

Question-asking is a necessary soft skill that helps you foster curiosity, engage in critical thinking, understand expectations, obtain information, express empathy, generate conversations, and develop relationships. In my role as a consultant, I have to fully understand a client's issue in order to provide advice or craft a viable solution. While listening is most certainly a crucial skill in accomplishing this task, asking great questions is of primary importance. Why? Because many times, the issue is a symptom of a bigger need. Thoughtful questions help to dig deeper than the symptom to find the root cause.

Amanda recommends the following next steps:

Read https://hbr.org/2022/05/the-art-of-asking-great-questions
Read https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/questioning-techniques
3
3
Updated
Share a link to this answer
Share a link to this answer

ShaRon’s Answer

I am a Lean Six Sigma Certified Master Black Belt that works as a Program Manager and without a doubt the most important soft skill for me has been to excel at ACTIVE LISTENING! Many times when people are speaking to you people listen to respond. They make a point and you want to express your knowledge and feelings about what they are saying. In doing so, you lose sight of their message.

When you possess active listening skills, you are listening for understanding. You are making sure that you actually HEAR what others are saying. This is done by nodding your head, maintaining direct eye contact and leaning in physically to the other speaker. You reinforce this by saying things like, "so what you are saying is FILL IN THE BLANK, is that correct?" or "let me get this straight, you are saying X."

When you engage in discussions with your primary objective is to hear others, versus responding to others, you win on so many levels. The other person walks away feeling heard and valued. If you don't understand what they are trying to say, THEY can correct you on the spot. That leaves no chance of misunderstanding or confusion. And you are clear in what is needed of you based on clearly understanding what they said and you can act accordingly. So its a WIN-WIN situation for everyone involved.

Good Luck!
3
2
Updated
Share a link to this answer
Share a link to this answer

Amber’s Answer

I am a communications professional that works in the banking industry. Right now the specific soft skill that I find myself constantly circling back to is empathy. Considering the world pandemic is still actively affecting lives around the world and causing hardship on countless people, this is imperative to have as a quality so you can relate to the customer yet stay focused on the goal of the outcome. They will immediately feel a connection between themselves and you, the company’s representative.
2
1
Updated
Share a link to this answer
Share a link to this answer

Richard J (Rich)’s Answer

The best soft skill I can think of is to be confident (without being arrogant) in your capabilities - but also be humble to realize that you don't know everything - you are always willing to learn (either to be taught or self-taught) - and that you value others skills to do any job as a team.
1
1
Updated
Share a link to this answer
Share a link to this answer

Shanti’s Answer

I am currently a Senior Manager in a training department for a software company. I've been hiring and interviewing people for approximately 30 years.

Soft skills are very important and I'm glad this question came up. I agree that good communication is a big deal. It's also a huge, general term that has a lot of subtle nuances around what "good" communication means for different types of roles. Your communication style needs to be able to shift depending on your responsibilities and who you are speaking with. Some people understand and respond positively to a blunt, no grey areas, just the facts, type of communication. Some people simply must talk about their family or the weather before they can discuss any work-related topics. You have to be able to shift and be flexible in order to best connect and truly communicate with someone.

Which leads me to say flexibility and curiosity are my top 2 soft skills. The world changes quickly. Work changes quickly. You may be working on a project and, half way through, find out that your budget was expanded and you have WAY more options to work with than originally planned. Will a change in course throw you off or can you look at it with curiosity and see potential options?

The other practice that I see others have mentioned and I will tie to the soft skill of curiosity is offering ideas for a solution. It's great to be able to spot issues. You have to see issues in order to fix them. The person who spots an issue AND provides a couple of potential solutions is the person I'm going to promote. You have to be curious about how things work, why current processes are in place, what the main purpose is, before you can really provide solutions. You have to be curious enough to ask the questions to help get you to an answer.
1
1
Updated
Share a link to this answer
Share a link to this answer

Radha’s Answer

Great question!

Engineering Director here, leading a team of approximately 50+ employees.

Top Soft Skills I look for:

1. Communication, understand how to communicate with others, and be receptive to others feedback;
2. Teamwork: be known as someone who can be relied upon, and also someone who knows how to be part of a team;
3. Time Management: understand the responsibilities you have to complete and the time it will be take for them to be completed.
1
1
Updated
Share a link to this answer
Share a link to this answer

Amy’s Answer

Hello!

I see many people chose communication or active listening. I agree that these are critical skills to being successful. Listen to understand, not to respond. However, I also think collaboration and relationship building are important skills. In any job you will need to rely on others and they will need to rely on you to get work done. When you effectively collaborate and seek out win-win solutions you build stronger networks of people invested in shared success. These relationships become so important to advancing your career. These positive relationships can determine what is said about you when you are not in the room and can mean the difference between getting the job or being stuck.

I have hired thousands of people in my career, and I would choose a good team player who is willing to work with others to share success, over an individual who is only focused on what they need.

Great question! Good luck
1
0
Updated
Share a link to this answer
Share a link to this answer

Sid’s Answer

Software Engineering
- Communication
- Listening Skills
- Knowing you target audience. Sharing the information that is relevant to your audience. For example, communicating deadline and risks to managers and implementation details to your team/ fellow engineers
- Adaptability
- Empathy +1 +2
0
0
Updated
Share a link to this answer
Share a link to this answer

Michael’s Answer

As a leader of people and something that can easily be overlooked but also improved upon is empathy. My career has been technical and empathy has helped me to progress. When dealing with technology, the problems are often logical. When we look up from our projects and begin dealing with others, it can be difficult to remember that we are rational beings. Throughout my career I have been a part of larger teams. To be a successful contributor to those teams, it has been important to seek to understand others' points of view.
0
0
Updated
Share a link to this answer
Share a link to this answer

Gennie A’s Answer

In one word? Varied. I didn't land in my current field out of the gate and it does....a little, relate to what I got my degree in. That's okay, my degree taught me how to learn and patience, you need that in every job. I'm in Telecommunications, management now. Listening is huge, you may have your opinions or answers but listening to the requestor, making sure you have all the facts first? Then answer, is key. I have worked all over the world, 10 countries and every state except one. People are people, respect, listening, clear and concise answers and then follow up to make sure everyone understands and pivoting if not. Best of luck.
0
0
Updated
Share a link to this answer
Share a link to this answer

Andrea’s Answer

I work as a Software Sales Consultant. Working on my Emotional Intelligence has been the biggest transferable skill I’ve developed. Being willing to understand and empathize with those you work with (co-workers, customers, clients, etc.) Putting yourself in other shoes, in order to learn a new perspective. No matter the career, having high emotional intelligence will take you a long way. Highly recommend reading Emotional Intelligence 2.0, easy read and helpful for any career you decide to get into.
0
0
Updated
Share a link to this answer
Share a link to this answer

Alex’s Answer

As a Project Manager soft skills could not be more important as they are integral to this type of job. Soft skills take a long time to master, I am still working on my soft skills because I believe there is always room for improvements.

Soft skills are for the most part non-technical skills that impact your performance at the job. You likely already have soft skills from your school. For example, if your friend confide in you for an issue they are dealing with, you would most likely empathize with them and listen to their concerns. You can also develop soft skills at work, school, volunteer activities, and by participating in training programs and classes. Most great leaders have a great deal of soft skills and that's what makes them successful in what they do.

Bottom line is Soft skills are personality traits and behaviors that will help you as a candidate to get hired and succeed at your job no matter what you choose to do. Unlike technical skills or“hard” skills, soft skills are interpersonal and behavioral skills that help you to work well with other people and develop your career.

Best of luck!
0
0
Updated
Share a link to this answer
Share a link to this answer

Greta’s Answer

I work as a Product Marketing Manager at Verizon. There are many soft skills that have been important for me in my career journey. However, one that stands out as particularly important is communication.

Effective communication has been essential in building relationships with coworkers and customers, presenting ideas in meetings, and collaborating with cross-functional teams. As a product marketing manager, I need to communicate with a variety of stakeholders, including customers, sales teams, product teams, and more. So it's crucial to be able to communicate clearly and concisely.

Good communication skills also involve active listening, which means paying attention to feedback and responding appropriately. It is very easy to get distracted, especially since I work remotely from home. By staying focused and listening to feedback from customers and stakeholders, it helps me adjust my strategies and messaging to better meet their needs.

Strengthening your communication skills early on will help you build relationships, present ideas effectively, and help drive success in your career!
0
0
Updated
Share a link to this answer
Share a link to this answer

Karen’s Answer

I am a Recreation Therapist at a large hospital in Florida. I have done this career for 40 years and love every aspect of it. My advice would be that if you are an upbeat positive person, love people, and want to help others, recreation therapy is a good career. The personal satisfaction you get at the end of the day is very rewarding. I work with adults however, you can work with children or seniors as well with the baby boomers getting older. You should be many opportunities in this field.
Check different colleges in different states for recreational therapy degrees.
0
0
Updated
Share a link to this answer
Share a link to this answer

Michael’s Answer

Great question! I want to choose more than one...........but I am going to go with communication. I am currently in the Learning and Development space, with a background in public education, HR, and Retail Management. In each of these spaces communication can make or break the ability to be successful. Being intentional about your communication and spcifically communicating with your audience rather than assuming your initial plan of attack is the best. Once you understand your audience you will have a better idea how to best impact the outcome. Create a unique gameplan for that space/team and execute at a high level. Be sure to circle back and confirm mesasge sent is message received. Going back to the drawing board and adjusting the initial message or game plan is expected. If you can be adaptible and quickly make adjustments your communication can be next level.