The essential need-to-know guide for soft skills in the workplace.

Every job seeker wants to be the perfect candidate when applying for their dream job. But even though there are many unemployed graduates in the country, they often do not get considered for the job they had initially applied for.

Why is this the case? This is ever so scary given that the unemployment rate in South Africa was stipulated to be 26.7% in the first quarter of 2018.

The secret is: many companies have specific soft skill attributes that they look out for when hiring a potential employee. Research states that “85% of job success comes from having well-developed soft skills.”

Soft skills are personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively, communicate openly and maturely, accept feedback, problem solve and work harmoniously with other people.

This seems to be more important than ever before, given that job seekers between the ages of 18-35 years have placed a huge expectation of wanting to be rewarded immediately without putting in the extra work which often makes them appear to be “lazy.”

As technology has increased, fewer conversations are made and less personal interactions are created, this causes a huge problems amongst young colleagues who have lost the ability to create meaningful connections with others and thus boost productivity in the workplace.

So, what are the key soft skills that HR professionals should be looking out for in today’s modern age?

Strong work ethic

Some things are taught at University and some at home. Strong work ethic is a soft skill that can only be taught at home.

This includes aspects such as being at work on time, ensuring that you communicate if you are running late or unable to complete certain deadlines, being proactive at work and working well in a team are all important attributes that employees should hold and HR managers should look for.

Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

EQ refers to someone’s ability to manage their own emotions and notice the emotions of others.

HR managers generally get their cues when interviewing a potential candidate from their social skills as well as their overall presence.

Things to look out for are: how does the person handle frustration and stress? How do they react when asking them to describe their weaknesses and are they able to think clearly and remain calm when posed with a difficult question?

Communicate effectively

How well does this candidate communicate with the colleague and team leaders? As we know, most things would be left undone if there wasn’t any communication between people.

However, communication does not simply mean a conversation between colleagues.

Communication also extends to listening; is the employee someone who listens attentively to what the other person is saying or simply just wanting to bring their point across in a conversation and leave thereafter?

It seems we all fail at some point in our lives to really listen and hear what the other person to trying to say. We often listen to respond, rather than listen to hear which can cause our conversations to be thawed.

Therefore, the manner in which someone expresses themselves and the way they delegate and explain tasks to others has a huge impact in how this is interpreted by others.

Problem solving

This soft skill mainly applies to someone interested in working in management and how they are able to work effectively with other colleagues whilst remaining in an authoritative position.

The technical job is usually easy to deal with but its managing people and different personalities that’s the problem. How good would this candidate be in handling tough situations as opposed to responding with “I have no idea what to do here.”

However, not all conflicts are solved in a linear straight forward thinking style and there will be some cases where you are left with grey areas. In this instance, it’s encouraged that the manager consult with others, take a moment to think clearly before making a final decision.


Employers are looking for someone who will be able to work well in a team, fit in with the company’s culture and values as well as collaborate with their co-workers on specific projects.

Be wary of those who believe that only they know how to do the job and don’t have faith in others to collaborate on a task.

This attitude can create tension in the workplace and hurt the overall efficiency. Learning to trust others and to avoid stepping on anyone’s toes when working together may be difficult; however, as mentioned before, communication is vital for a successful working relationship.

Being a good team player means to identify certain gaps in the workplace and trying to bridge those gaps. An effective way to do this is to get the team involved in a soft skills training course  which will allow them to develop communication skills as well as many other skills they may not have had before. LifeLine Corporate

Share This