Last updated: 27.04.15

Soft skills crucial in modern job market

Soft skills have become invaluable in the modern job market, with an increasing number of employers targeting candidates who possess them, according to research.

Sometimes referred to as someone's emotional intelligence quotient, soft skills are personality traits - such as language and communication skills, confidence and optimism - that employers view as valuable, but less tangible than vocational qualifications.

Global specialist employment recruiter Randstad discovered that as well as definable attributes, like job-specific abilities, more job advertisements are specifying the need for soft skills.

Some 51 per cent of job listings on Randstad's website including the term "team work", while others mentioned keywords such as "effective", "dedicated" and "time management".

Furthermore, a report called Development Economics - commissioned by McDonald's - found that 97 per cent of employers put their business success down to soft skills, while more than half admitted they believe such skills are more important than qualifications.

Mark Bull, chief executive of Randstad, said: "For the very top roles, qualifications and experience are still a must-have, but having these alone won’t be enough to differentiate you from the pack and secure you the most coveted positions.

"Having a confident and personable demeanour, the ability to use one’s initiative to be decisive, good communication and listening skills and an optimistic and enthusiastic outlook is just as likely to endear you to employers as a first-class university degree and an impressive roster of previous experience."

The Development Economics report also found a lack of awareness surrounding the value of such skills among UK employees, with an estimated half a million expected to be held back by a soft skills shortage by 2020.

Mr Bull urges employers to acknowledge the importance of soft skills, describing them as a transferable asset that are not only valuable to the employee, but can help businesses to thrive in what has become a highly competitive job market.

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