Soft skills - have you got them? We uncover what they are and how to develop them!

If you have ever heard the term “soft skills” and thought what in the world are they? You wouldn’t be alone.

Soft skills are also known as enterprise skills or those that we call transferable. There are more than 1000 occupations in Australia – and according to design thinking practises, these can be grouped into 7 clusters of industries that require similar soft skills. Meaning? When you work one job you acquire a skill set that can be applied to around 13 others.

Soft skills are a powerful predictor of long-term success. Why? Because they are tools that allow an individual to work through the challenges of change particularly as they relate to a workplace or profession.

Soft skills can include:

Problem solving Financial literacy

Creativity Digital literacy

Communication Critical thinking

Teamwork Presentation skills

And the demand for soft skills is on the rise. Digital literacy, critical thinking and creativity are some of the most in demand soft skills today. Furthermore, soft skills are now more critical to jobs of the future, 70% more than jobs of the past! And employers ask for these skills as often as they ask for technical skills.

I was fascinated by this concept when I relocated from London to Australia – I spent 5 years recruiting for Luxury brands that could be very easily broken into a sort of tiered system. Using this tiered system in recruitment was a huge driver for candidates making a move. We would actively approach people from the second tier to interview for a first-tier brand.

However, when I moved to Australia a lot of luxury brands were only just starting to open here. My first thought was “where are you going to get your candidates from?” There were no tiers, or experienced candidates with little black books to target. They had to be trained – and taken from other industries.

So, can you develop soft skills? Absolutely! But it does take active engagement and commitment to make them a strength. Just like a muscle over time the more you practise, the stronger they get.

And by the same token employers will need to look to clusters to identify where great talent is going to come from based on the soft skills they need for that role.

I am keen to hear your thoughts – what soft skills do you have now that you did not have one, three or five years ago?

I work with you on this thinking during Career Development and Coaching sessions. If you are feeling stuck in your job but don't know what else you could do, then we should have a chat!

Ange x