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Soft skills are becoming extremely important in today’s workforce. While several employers still focus on technical skills that respective jobs require, soft skills are now just as valued. These can be classified as skills that are more personal, whether they are innate or learned through additional classes and courses. These are essential in that they are what will distinguish you as an applicant amongst your competitors vying for the same job. Employers look for applicants with these attributes as they will allow a potential employee to withstand whatever challenges come with the job and more. When managers see their employees’ strengths and weaknesses through their behaviour, they’ll see who stands up to complete tasks and who is more capable of getting the job done.

Here we’ve listed the five essential soft skills to look out for in the coming year. Don’t worry if you don’t have the skills yet, as you can work towards developing them through your everyday experiences.

Work Ethic

Eric Chester, author of ‘Reviving Work Ethic: A Leader’s Guide to Ending Entitlement and Restoring Pride in the Emerging Workforce’ says that individuals who exhibit a strong work ethic are those who are positive and enthusiastic about their work. Now, work ethic is as much about the small things as it is about big things. One way you can show your potential employer your good work ethic is by respecting deadlines and always being on time. This also shows that you never cram things, always allocating the right amount of time to the tasks assigned to you. This can be valued rather highly as it’s a skill that is harder to teach and comes naturally to some individuals.

Excellent Communication

India Today details that being an effective communicator is often more valued than intelligence in the realm of businesses. One way you show that you’re an effective communicator is through not only excellent speaking skills but also through your ability to listen. Since being a good communicator also means being a good listener, those who wish to improve this soft skill should show the ability to comprehend various points of view in order to expand their own views and practise empathy.

Up-to-Date Technological Skills

Given how fast-paced today’s world is, lifelong learning is an essential skill employees must undertake. They must be curious and driven to learn more amidst an ever-changing digital landscape. Considering that technology in the workplace is evolving at a frenetic pace, it’s important to anticipate, learn, and be able to adopt fresh concepts. Being digitally agile through skills like website creation and online marketing will give you a huge advantage in your career. Marketing agency Ayima notes that startups have a hard time establishing their websites, particularly because the process to do so is costly and time intensive. If you take the time to learn the latest concepts on Google rankings and algorithms, you will be a much more valued member of your company. And even if having this knowledge isn’t necessarily part of your typical job description it will surely help a lot when it comes to setting yourself apart in the job market. Understanding that you can never know just enough is also a practice of humility, which is oftentimes long forgotten.

Leadership Qualities

Exhibiting leadership qualities shows that you are a team player. This helps you show your potential for growth and ability to rise above to actual leadership positions early on as you are able to influence and persuade your peers to do be the best version of themselves. This skill is so prized that 95% of organizations plan on maintaining or increasing their investment in leadership development, according to the Chief Learning Officer Business Intelligence Board. Take note that leadership comes in different forms and its best to be able to adapt depending on the situation. Sometimes leadership is about managing people and sometimes it can be about setting a good example.

Deeper Self-Awareness

Those who have deep self-awareness know their strengths. They know how to capitalize on what they are good at, and show that they are also always open to improvement. Our piece on Arnab highlights how leaning into your strengths will always yield benefits no matter how unconventional the path may seem. However, self-awareness goes beyond just knowing your strengths. Another part of self-awareness is knowing where you lack and where you have to improve. Career Services suggests that self-aware individuals constantly ask for feedback when they find themselves wanting to do more or be more. Having a deep sense of self-awareness also means learning how to delegate tasks to people more suited to certain jobs to avoid the temptation to micromanage.

While the job market is looking like it’s at its most competitive in years, we have no doubt that you’ll have more than a fighting chance once you’ve honed these soft skills. Remember that self-improvement is a continuous process and is something that you’ll have to work on every day. No one is born a leader or a great communicator. Just like any other skill these can be practised and developed with time.

Article written by Lisa Davids (Exclusively for

Lisa Davids is a London-based business consultant specializing in helping organizations in the recruitment and training processes. These days, she runs an eCommerce business and writes as a freelancer on the side.