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Soft skills you need to have that organisations care about the most

24 July 2018 - 12:00 By Vincent Maake
Young man in leadership role for a new project.
Young man in leadership role for a new project.
Image: 123RF/Dmytro Zinkevych.

We are in the midst of a skills revolution where soft skills continue to be in demand for their broad application and stability, as technical skills continue to shift over time and their lifespan becomes shorter.

Communicating, critical thinking, meeting deadlines, being well-organised, collaborating, the ability to analyse and innovate; these are all just some of the personal attributes that indicate a high level of emotional and personal intelligence – also known as soft skills.

Lyndy van den Barselaar, managing director of ManpowerGroup South Africa, explains, “While there is no doubt that technical skills are important, especially considering the skills revolution we are undergoing, the value of soft skills has certainly not decreased.”

Employers are seeking these skills more than ever as they are broadly applicable across job titles, industries and changing times. Here are some of the soft skills that encompass a variety of the abilities that organisations are looking for. 

Interpersonal skills

When things are going smoothly in an organisation, no one feels the need to discuss communication and interpersonal skills. However, the moment something goes wrong, the culprit is usually a miscommunication, a failure to connect, or a lack of collaboration. The glue that keeps an organisation running is interpersonal skills. Success depends on relationships with all kinds of people, and your personal relationships demonstrate your brand and what you can do for an organisation.


Beyond interpersonal skills, a sense of “presence” includes the gravitas of how you behave or act, how you speak and how you present yourself. These are skills that can be learned and developed. Seeking coaching and solid skill building in personal career management can guide and support leaders in building executive presence in a way that compels people to follow them.

“This is where having a career coach becomes so important. Learning from someone who is able to lead by example, and demonstrate what they are teaching you, is invaluable,” explains van den Barselaar.


Leadership skills play a big part in influencing your career development and career path. Technical skills will only take you so far. The ability to lead and motivate others will help you to get noticed on the job. “Mentorship in the workplace is especially important in the development of future leaders,” says van den Barselaar. To improve in this area, seek out a mentor to find where you are lacking and how you can develop strategies to improve your leadership skills.

Personal branding

Finally, how can you signal that you have all the variety of technical and soft skills together in one package? This is known as personal branding. Communicating your personal brand is how potential employers and colleagues learn the value that you bring to the job. This requires that you can self-describe and provide examples that illustrate accomplishments. Personal branding soft skills are in demand, and the demand is growing. 

“Part of personal branding is putting together an elevator pitch, or 30 second commercial, which describes you and your personal brand values in a few, concise sentences. This comes in handy when networking, going for interviews, starting a business, etc.,” explains van den Barselaar.

It’s a popular misconception that either you have soft skills or you don’t. However, van den Barselaar explains that like technical skills, all soft skills can be learned and refined over time. Start working on your deficiencies and honing your strengths.