Soft Skills List and Examples

Soft Skills for Resumes, Cover Letters, and Interviews

Three young professionals
••• Adam Lubroth / Getty Images

Soft skills are the personal attributes you need to succeed in the workplace. These are often related to how you work with others—in other words, these are people skills. Soft skills are different from hard skills, which are directly relevant to the job to which you are applying. These are often more quantifiable, and easier to learn. A hard skill for a carpenter, for example, might be the ability to operate a power saw or use framing squares.

Regardless of the job to which you're applying, you need at least some soft skills. In order to succeed at work, you must get along well with all the people with whom you interact, including managers, co-workers, clients, vendors, customers, and anyone else you communicate with while on the job.

Employers want employees who are able to effectively interact with others. These skills are also very hard to teach, so employers want to know that job candidates already have the soft skills that enable them to be successful in the workplace.

List of Soft Skills With Examples

Below is a list of the most important soft skills that most employers look for. It also includes lists of related soft skills that employers tend to seek in job applicants. Develop these skills and emphasize them in job applications, resumes, cover letters, and interviews. Showing the interviewer that you have the skills the company is seeking will help you get hired.

Communication Skills
How well do you communicate? Communication skills are important in almost every job. You will likely need to communicate with people on the job, whether they are clients, customers, colleagues, employers, or vendors. You will also need to be able to speak clearly and politely with people in person, over the phone, and in writing.

You will also likely need to be a good listener. Employers want employees who can not only communicate their own ideas, but also listen empathetically to others. Listening is a particularly important skill in customer service jobs.

Critical Thinking
No matter what the job, employers want candidates who can analyze situations and make informed decisions. Whether you are working with data, teaching students, or fixing a home heating system, you need to be able to understand problems, think critically, and come up with solutions. Skills related to critical thinking include creativity, flexibility, and curiosity.

  • Adaptable
  • Artistic sense
  • Creativity
  • Critical observer
  • Critical thinking
  • Design sense
  • Desire to learn
  • Flexible
  • Innovative
  • Logical thinking
  • Problem solving
  • Research
  • Resourceful
  • Thinking outside the box
  • Tolerant of change and uncertainty
  • Troubleshooting
  • Value education
  • Willingness to learn

While not every job opening is a leadership role, most employers will want to know that you have the ability to make decisions when push comes to shove, and can manage situations and people. Being able to step up to the plate when there is a difficult situation and helping to resolve it is something employers look for in prospective employees.

If you are interviewing for a job that has the potential for advancement, the employer will want to know that you have what it takes to become a leader in the future.

Other skills related to leadership include the ability to resolve problems and conflicts between people, and making executive decisions.

Positive Attitude
Employers are always looking for someone who will bring a positive attitude to the office. They want employees who will be friendly to others, eager to work, and generally a pleasure to be around. Being able to keep things positive is especially important if you’re working in a fast-paced, high-stress work environment.

  • Confident
  • Cooperative
  • Courteous
  • Energetic
  • Enthusiastic
  • Friendly
  • High energy
  • Honest
  • Patient
  • Respectable
  • Respectful
  • Sense of humor
  • Work-life balance

Hiring managers look for job candidates who can work well with others. Whether you will be doing a lot of team projects, or simply attending a few departmental meetings, you need to be able to work effectively with the people around you. You need to be able to work with others even if you do not always see eye to eye.

Some skills related to teamwork include the ability to negotiate with others, and to recognize and appreciate diversity in a team. Another related skill is the ability to accept and apply feedback from others.

Work Ethic
Employers look for job candidates with a strong work ethic. People with a strong work ethic come to work on time, complete tasks in a timely manner, stay focused, and stay organized. They are able to budget their time and complete their work thoroughly. While they can work independently, people with a strong work ethic can also follow instructions.

A strong work ethic is difficult to teach, so employers will be impressed if you can demonstrate it in your job application.

  • Attentive
  • Business ethics
  • Competitive
  • Dedicated
  • Dependable
  • Following direction
  • Highly organized
  • Independent
  • Making deadlines
  • Motivated
  • Multitasking
  • Organization
  • Perseverant
  • Persistent
  • Planning
  • Proper business etiquette
  • Punctual
  • Reliable
  • Resilient
  • Results-oriented
  • Scheduling
  • Self-directed
  • Self-monitoring
  • Self-supervising
  • Staying on task
  • Strategic planning
  • Time management
  • Trainable
  • Working well under pressure

The Best Ways to Use Skills Lists

You can use the skill words listed below as you search for jobs. For example, include the terms in your resume, especially in the description of your work history. You can also incorporate them into your cover letter. Mention one or two of the skills mentioned here, and give specific examples of instances when you demonstrated these traits at work.

You can also use these words in your job interviews. Keep the top skills listed here in mind during your interview, and be prepared to give examples of how you've exemplified each. Each job will require different skills and experiences, so make sure you read the job description carefully, and focus on the skills listed by the employer. Also, review our lists of skills listed by job and type of skill.