• The 21st century has witnessed more social and technological growth than in previous times.
  • As a result of this change, IQ and hard/technical skills alone are no longer sufficient for the workplace.
  • We have compiled a list of the most important soft skills needed to remain relevant in this constantly evolving world.

Back in the day, all you needed to succeed in the workplace were a set of hard/technical skills that qualified you to do a certain job. 

These specific and measured abilities included web design, writing, accounting, finance, legal and computer programming. Things have since changed thanks to technological advances. Now, jobs have become more complex and require something extra — soft skills.

Research has shown that employers are now looking for job applicants with a combination of hard and soft skills. A 2018 Linkedin report found that 57% of senior leaders agree that training for soft skills is a top priority for talent development teams.

Hard Skills Defined (thebalancecareers)
Hard Skills Defined (thebalancecareers)

Unlike hard skills that can be acquired via formal education, soft skills are the type of skills robots simply can not automate which makes the candidate who possesses them well sought-after and invaluable in this continually disruptive world. 

An employee with a combination of these two skills is also more likely to boost their earning power. For instance, civil engineers were paid an average of $78,000 (N28 million) for their hard skills, their salary increased to $87,000 (N31 million) when strong people-management skills were added to the mix. This is according to Burning Glass, an analytics software company that focuses on job growth, skills in demand, and labour market trends.

Now that we know the importance of soft skills, here are the three you need to remain relevant in the workplace:

  • Ability to learn 

Staying relevant and efficient in today’s workplace requires curiosity, the willingness and ability to learn. Today’s employee needs to be able to constantly evolve and reinvent themselves when necessary. This means letting go of a frigid mindset and keeping an open mind.

In the words of Alvin Toffler, a well known American writer, futurist, and businessman: “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.”

Soft skills are one advantage humans have over robots (linkedin)
Soft skills are one advantage humans have over robots (linkedin)

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  • Creativity

This is another skill that makes a human being more valuable than robots. While these machines great at improving existing ideas, organizations need creative employees who can come up with groundbreaking ideas that will make the world a better place.

This particular skill can be developed with time as long as you get comfortable with exploring, frustrations, questioning assumptions, using your imagination and taking advantage of the information you already possess.

  • Resilience

RQ (resilience quotient) is what gives certain people the ability to endure and thrive in spite of the stress and new challenges that life throws at us. This skill comes in handy when you consider the fact that a 2015 study conducted by the IBM Institute for Business Value on 5,247 business executives from 21 industries in over 70 countries found that the “scope, scale and speed” of their businesses were increasing at an accelerated rate.

This is why it's important to be resilient as it will help you figure out “ways that will help you move forward so you don’t get ‘stuck’ in places that are detrimental to your overall well being” — CEO at the Institute of Managers and Leaders, David Pich.

Learn to be resilient (Smile Design Dental)
Learn to be resilient (Smile Design Dental)

To build resilience at work, learn to treat problems as a learning process, avoid being dramatic when a crisis occurs, have realistic life goals/perspectives, be optimistic and always celebrate your successes.

Other important soft skills to consider adding to your resume include time management, flexibility, good communication abilities, taking initiative, leadership and the ability to be a good team player.