Definition

soft skills

Soft skills are personal attributes that enhance an individual's interactions, job performance and career prospects. Unlike hard skills, which are about a person's skill set and ability to perform a certain type of task or activity, soft skills are interpersonal and broadly applicable.

Soft skills are often described by using terms often associated with personality traits, such as:

  • optimism
  • common sense
  • responsibility
  • a sense of humor
  • integrity

and abilities that can be practiced (but require the individual to genuinely like other people) such as:

  • empathy
  • teamwork
  • leadership
  • communication
  • good manners
  • negotiation
  • sociability
  • the ability to teach.

It's often said that hard skills will get you an interview but you need soft skills to get (and keep) the job.

See also: emotional intelligence, human factors, continuous improvement, Theory of Constraints

Contributor(s): T. L. Parsons
This was last updated in April 2011
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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