Developing your soft skills

Soft skills are general skills that most employers look for when recruiting and are needed for most jobs. They're sometimes called transferable skills or employability skills by employers. We gain soft skills in life and work.

Find out about some of the soft skills employers look for and how to develop these skills.  

Examples of soft skills

Soft skills are more likely to be the kind you pick up through life experience, like how you:

  • communicate and work with others
  • make decisions
  • organise yourself and work
  • adapt to difficult situations

When you apply for a job you will need to show that you have the soft skills needed.

Communication

You can use communication skills in lots of different jobs. 

You use communication skills when:

  • writing emails
  • dealing with customers
  • reading instructions
  • helping and caring for people

Improve your communication

You can develop your communication skills by meeting new people and working with them.

You could:

  • join a sports team or creative arts club
  • volunteer somewhere you will talk to the public
  • practice making phone or video calls
  • take an online course, like on how to give work presentations

Leadership

Leadership skills are not just for managers. Having leadership skills shows an employer that you can manage yourself and your workload.

You might have experience of using leadership skills like:

  • time management
  • conflict management
  • problem solving
  • mentoring

Improve your leadership

To develop your leadership skills you could:

  • organise your schedule by creating a timetable
  • resolve conflict between friends or colleagues
  • motivate others: you could do this by organising activities, fun or educational like a quiz
  • teach skills to others: you could create instruction manuals or videos to share with family and friends

Positivity

A good attitude is something a lot of employers look for. Employers look for people who see solutions, not problems.

You use positivity skills when you:

  • stay calm in stressful situations
  • look for answers to problems
  • have a can do attitude

Improve your positivity

To develop your positivity skills you could:

Flexibility

Being flexible shows that you're adaptable to different situations. It shows you can handle change and adapt at short notice.

You can be flexible by:

  • covering someone else's duties at work
  • working outside of your regular hours
  • changing what you're working on to fit with priorities

Improve your flexibility skills

To develop your flexibility skills you could:

  • rearrange your day because of a change in priorities
  • do more than one task at a time
  • do something outside of your comfort zone
  • do a challenge that stretches you
  • change your plans to help someone at short notice

Problem solving

Employers look for problem solving skills because it shows you can find problems and fix them.

You might use problem solving skills when:

  • dealing with a customer's problem
  • doing research to understand a situation
  • asking questions to help you understand the bigger picture

Improve your problem solving

To develop your problem solving skills you could:

  • play logic puzzles and games
  • keep a journal – looking at your mindset and how you look at solving problems
  • get involved in projects with others where you solve problems together
  • try brainstorming and developing plans for problems you have

Next steps

If there are soft skills that you want to work on further, you could do some volunteering or work experience

You could also do some free online learning to help you gain more soft skills. This will give you examples you can use on your CV or in job interviews when you apply for jobs.

Related content

Identifying skills and upskilling

Volunteering advice

Getting the most out of online learning

How to write a CV

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