Soft Skills

What Does Soft Skills Mean?

Soft skills, also known as people skills, are personal qualities that complement the technical requirements necessary to acquire and maintain employment.


Soft skills determine an employee’s ability to work well with others and self-manage their work time alone. Unlike hard skills, which are deliberately acquired to support a specific task, job or career, soft skills are personality-driven and can be easily transferred from one career path to another.

Although soft skills tend to develop naturally with experience, they can also be gained by seeking out feedback and learning from constructive criticism. Important soft skills include:

  • Clear written and verbal communication
  • Time management
  • Flexibility
  • Workplace etiquette
  • Conflict management
  • Responsibility and accountability

Techopedia Explains Soft Skills

In human resource management (HRM), a candidate's soft skills can be just as important as a candidate's hard skills, because soft skills often determine whether or not a new hire will be a good cultural fit.

During the interview process, soft skills are typically assessed subjectively by asking the applicant open-ended questions that require self-reflection. The goal of this type of questioning is to understand the candidate’s ability to think critically and creatively, share knowledge appropriately and give opinions respectfully.

One of the most important soft skills employers look for during an interview is the applicant’s verbal, aural, non-verbal and written communication skills. This includes :

  • The applicant’s ability to listen before speaking.
  • The applicant’s choice of words and tone of voice.
  • The applicant’s professionalism as reflected by their personal appearance and body language.
  • Written communication skills as observed in the applicant’s resume and cover letter.

Related Terms

Latest Career Paths Terms

Related Reading

Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…