Why Soft Skills Matter More

Successful companies value soft skills over hard skills. The Public Speaker explains why soft skills matter and how to develop them.

Lisa B. Marshall
5-minute read
Episode #218

“The workplace doesn’t tolerate slackers anymore. 

That’s a direct quote from my Smart Talk interview with Dan Schawbel, author of the new book Promote Yourself:  The New Rules for Career Success. That comment inspired me to write this episode about why soft skills matter even more in today’s workplace..

Did you know that originally this podcast was going to be called, The People Skills Pro?  That’s right. I had wanted the name of the show to emphasize the importance of soft skills for career success.  That’s why when I read Dan Schawbel’ new book, Promote Yourself, it really resonated with me when he said that today you can’t just do what’s in your job description and expect to be rewarded for it. Dan explains that you need to go above and beyond and that’s where the importance of soft skills comes into play. Of course, I couldn’t agree more!

In today episode we’re going to talk about why soft skills are more critical than ever if you want to accelerate your career.

What Are Soft Skills?

But what exactly are soft skills?  Well, hard skills are specific abilities and usually related to professional knowledge, tools, or techniques.  For example, the ability to use software programs, analyze data, operate specific machinery, or being a certified professional in any field can be considered hard skills. 

Soft skills aren’t as easy to define. I prefer the term people skills—because I like to think of soft skills as character traits or interpersonal skills. For me soft skills includes things such as: communication skills, creativity, leadership, adaptability, attitude, etc. Particularly when technical skills are equal, it’s the soft skills that make one person stand out over another.

Let’s look at Microsoft as an example. An article in The Wall Street Journal India describes Microsoft’s needs in India:

"'Behavioral skills' can sometimes 'take precedence over technical skills,' says Joji Gill, director of human resources at Microsoft India. 'We look for smart and intelligent individuals who exhibit passion to do something different with technology.'”

The Human Resources Director goes on to list the top 3 most important qualities in a candidate:

“The first would be integrity. This is of utmost importance. The second would be accountability, and the third would be how self-critical the individual is. We push our employees to be self-critical, which can help them achieve personal excellence."

This is echoed in Promote Yourself. Schwabel explains that workers need to be more than their job description. The bottom line is this: You probably won’t get an interview without the required hard skills, but it’s the soft skills that will get you the job and, eventually, the promotions.

And advanced proficiency in soft skills can really accelerate your career!


About the Author

Lisa B. Marshall

Lisa B. Marshall Lisa holds masters with duel degrees in interpersonal/intercultural communication and organizational communication. She’s the author of Smart Talk: The Public Speaker's Guide to Success in Every Situation, as well as Ace Your Interview, Powerful Presenter, and Expert Presenter. Her work has been featured in CBS Money Watch, Ragan.com, Woman's Day, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and many others. Her institutional clients include Johns Hopkins Medicine, Harvard University, NY Academy of Science, University of Pennsylvania, Genentech, and Roche.

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