When it comes to landing new jobs and advancing your tech career, keeping your technical skills up-to-date is critical. But “soft skills” such as communication and empathy matter just as much, especially if your job involves regular interactions with colleagues and other stakeholders throughout your organization.
But which “soft skills” do employers value the most? That’s an excellent question. Emsi Burning Glass, which collects and analyzes millions of job postings from across the country, can give us some insight into which soft skills pop up most frequently in tech-related job postings. Here’s that data from the past 30 days:
If you’re currently searching for a new job, make sure to include soft skills on your résumé and other application materials. Over the past few years, managers and executives have placed increasing emphasis on communication, empathy, and teamwork; by citing those skills during the application process, you boost your chances of being called for an interview. During the interview itself, make sure you come armed with good examples of times you used soft skills to successfully achieve something big—for instance, finishing a critical project or just helping teams to work together more effectively.
If there’s room, you can also consider breaking out a separate “soft skills” section on your résumé. Tailor this section to each prospective position by citing the soft skills that a particular job posting calls out. Just make sure to only list those skills you actually know—if you say you have extensive experience mentoring younger colleagues, for instance, chances are very good that the recruiter or hiring manager will question you about that.
Soft skills are just as important for freelance technologists. In 2020, some 78 percent of freelancers told an UpWork survey that “soft skills are at least equally as important as technical skills to succeed in their work.” Freelancers might not have to deal with the same office politics as full-time staffers, but they must nonetheless possess sterling communication and collaboration skills if they want to land new jobs and work effectively with clients. Since freelancers often work remotely, they must also have the know-how to “check in” often with their collaborators, and ensure that everyone’s needs are being effectively addressed.
And if you want to take on a management role, soft skills such as empathy and active listening are key; after all, it’s virtually certain you’ll have to manage some very difficult situations in terms of personnel. To put it simply, your career can’t advance without soft skills; make sure you master them just as you would any technical skill.