Creating a positive team culture with soft skills
Find helpful resources for managers and recruiters to help build soft skills that benefit your organization.
Imagine that you’re hiring a software engineer. You’ll likely want to target some hard skills, like proficiency in specific coding languages. But beyond that, it’s also important to find someone with the right combination of soft skills. For example, you may seek a software engineer who excels at communication and collaboration — two soft skills that can help them thrive in a team environment.
When hiring, it can be helpful to define the desired soft skills for each open role. For instance, time management may be especially important for a journalist who is constantly working on deadline. Meanwhile, adaptability may be a particularly essential soft skill for a start-up executive who wears many hats.
By keeping soft skills in mind when interviewing, you can help ensure you hire the best candidates possible and position your organization for success. Read on to explore soft skills training resources from LinkedIn.
What are soft skills?
Soft skills are traits that help employees succeed on the job. For example, strong interpersonal skills may indicate a candidate’s potential to interact well with others and contribute positively to the overall team. These highly transferable traits shape the way employees work on a day-to-day basis.
When evaluating soft skills, you can answer valuable questions like: How does this candidate communicate with colleagues? How effectively can they juggle multiple priorities at once? Do they adapt easily to new workflows?
Soft skills vs. hard skills
Wondering how to clearly distinguish between soft skills and hard skills?
Let’s explore some key differences:
Type of expertise
Soft skills measure the way a candidate works. Hard skills, on the other hand, assess the technical knowledge needed to perform a particular job. Communication and teamwork are soft skills, while knowledge of a specific software falls under hard skills.
Hard skills are generally much easier to demonstrate. For example, you could identify an excellent programmer through a structured coding interview, with clear metrics that indicate competence. Proving adaptability, by contrast, may be a much lengthier process that requires the right situational context.
In the same vein, hard skills are often honed through a structured and predictable process — classes or certification courses, for instance. Developing soft skills, on the other hand, isn’t so clear-cut.
In general, hard skills are less transferable than soft skills. Mastery of a particular software, for example, may benefit some companies more than others. Meanwhile, soft skills are almost always transferable. Creativity, for instance, can set any candidate apart, whether they’re coming from a competitor or a different industry altogether.
Soft skills examples
Your employees’ ability to work effectively with others — both within familiar team settings and cross-functionally — can dramatically shape project outcomes and workplace relationships.
Are your employees willing to give every project their best shot? Do they take initiative? Work ethic goes a long way — especially during unanticipated setbacks and other stressful situations.
This people skill helps employees thrive in any relationship-driven environment. In healthcare, for example, demonstrating empathy and compassion dramatically improves patient-provider relationships.
10 soft skills that can drive business success
• Communication: Sharing and absorbing information productively, openly, and respectfully
• Teamwork: Working effectively with other team members
• Time management: Working efficiently and productively, especially when faced with deadlines and multiple priorities
• Problem-solving: Thinking critically about a problem (and working toward a solution)
• Creativity: Devising inventive, outside-the-box solutions
• Leadership: Guiding and mentoring others
• Interpersonal skills: Interacting positively with others
• Work ethic: Being dedicated to a broader mission and the work it entails
• Adaptability: Evolving with change and adjusting to new circumstances
• Attention to detail: Identifying and accounting for every last detail
How to assess a candidate’s soft skills
Incorporating a soft skill assessment into your interview process can help you hire the most qualified candidates. You may consider asking questions that explore certain soft skills, such as these behavioral interview questions.
Active listening can also help you uncover valuable insights about candidates. When detailing their hard skills or providing personal anecdotes, for example, candidates might indirectly spotlight soft skills like curiosity, teamwork, or leadership. By listening closely and asking the right questions, you can confidently choose the best person for the job.
Soft skills training
Looking to develop your employees’ soft skills? The right training can yield countless benefits. Though many soft skills directly align with intrinsic personality traits, training and experience are often necessary for further development.
You may consider implementing a teamwide training program, either in person or online. These target a number of soft skill areas, including communication and collaboration.
LinkedIn soft skills training resources
Today, soft skills training is the #1 priority for learning and development leaders. Expanding access to valuable training opportunities can benefit business leaders and employees alike — especially as workplaces across the board continue to evolve at record speed. Discover how LinkedIn can help elevate your team’s soft skills.
Leadership soft skills
It’s no secret that soft skills are essential to management and leadership. Beyond leadership expertise itself, these positions require strategic communication, patience, and initiative, among many other traits. With the right soft skills, leaders can cultivate a positive work culture, improve retention, drive productivity, and more.