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BLOG | JULY 2023

The Three Essential Soft Skills for Modern Workers

In recent years, soft skills like communication, collaboration, and adaptivity have become increasingly important as organizations seek new talent.

Christopher Lando

Director of Talent Acquisition


Technical skills are crucial for performing jobs and keeping people safe at work. While employers have emphasized these hard skills historically, soft skills like communication, leadership, and critical thinking have become a growing focus in recent years. With many U.S. college graduates feeling anxious and unprepared for the workforce, a focus on developing stronger soft skills can help job hunters become more appealing to potential employers.

At present, many industries face rapid change and unpredictable disruption, causing a shift from a more traditional experience-based hiring approach to one focused on skills—not only the measurable and quantifiable technical skills required to perform a job, but also the interpersonal abilities needed to communicate effectively and work collaboratively with colleagues. 

When hiring new employees or upskilling current ones, assessing certain soft skills are especially important to help you find the right people for your team and organizational culture.

Rethinking Soft Skills

Remote and hybrid jobs are now commonplace, as is virtual interviewing. As a result, the interview process has changed considerably since the pandemic, sometimes making it more difficult for recruiters or interviewers to assess the interpersonal abilities of potential hires.  

Many skills can be taught to employees in onboarding, especially the day-to-day actions and tasks that come with any job. But other, more personal skills—things like showing up to work on time, being dependable, interacting well with customers—are proving to be more impactful across industries.

If your team is searching for an exact fit for every hard and soft skill, filling that role will be difficult. But a solid foundation of communication skills, collaboration, and adaptability can help job seekers better market themselves and employers find dedicated, capable teams.

1. Communication

The ability to communicate effectively is vital even if an individual isn’t in a customer-facing role. To perform a job well, an employee also must build working relationships with coworkers and convey information to finish projects and achieve goals. They have to be able to give and receive constructive criticism with tact and decency, as well as develop an understanding of the communication styles of others.

Across industries, a person’s success in their career relates to their ability to communicate their abilities in the interview process and work collaboratively with colleagues once hired. Speaking capably to others, presenting information, and listening actively are a few examples of essential communication skills.

2. Collaboration

Like communication, the ability to collaborate with others remains a key soft skill, especially as many workplaces focus on providing more collaborative space post-pandemic. Working toward a common goal requires the ability to connect and cooperate, and teams that find ways to emphasize collaboration are more successful, with better outcomes, stronger relationships, and a diversity of strengths and perspectives. 

Employees who cultivate a supportive environment where common goals are shared and accountability is practiced are profoundly valuable to organizations, as they help create a culture of respect and honesty. If people feel free to share their ideas and engage with their colleagues, not only does it boost job satisfaction, but also provides organizations with opportunities to cultivate new innovations and initiatives. By emphasizing collaboration on existing teams and in new hires, leaders can develop employees that contribute to a positive workplace while also achieving big things.

3. Adaptability

Since 2020, the way many people work has shifted—some remote, some hybrid, some onsite with new rules and regulations. Whatever the case, one of the biggest soft skills for the modern workforce is adaptability. Change has been a constant over the past few years and people who can adjust and pivot as the circumstances require are always a valuable addition to any workplace.

While challenges can’t be predicted, employees who are adaptable can adjust their perspectives and tactics based on the conditions and recover quicker when encountering stumbling blocks. Adaptable workers can also quickly learn new technologies or skills, showing a willingness to seek out and explore opportunities for professional development.

Employers can attract adaptable employees in part by building flexibility into their culture. By offering people opportunities for flexible work—like remote/hybrid work or flexible “four-ten” schedules for onsite employees—organizations can expect more engaged and effective employees who are happy in their roles and willing to stick around in the long term.

Soft Skills Matter More Than Ever

Technical expertise and hard skills will always be important parts of the workplace. But having the right soft skills to communicate and collaborate effectively while also remaining adaptable to unexpected changes allows people to feel more fulfilled and companies to be more successful. With the right combination of skills and emotional intelligence honed over time, workers can set themselves apart and employers can find excellent additions to their teams.


Christopher Lando

Director of Talent Acquisition