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Soft Skills Top Candidates Possess

April 8th, 2016

In an effort to categorize candidate skill sets and measure the value of one applicant over another, some employers divide a candidate’s profile into distinct “hard” and “soft” skill sets. While hard skills refer to job-specific capabilities (like proficiency with a specific piece of equipment), soft skills tend to be universal, non-industry-specific, and woven into a candidate’s personality and life experience. Hard skills, for example, might include knowledge of medical billing codes and the ability to pass a test on this subject. But soft skills might include negotiation, public speaking, customer service, conflict resolution, or problem solving. Here are a few of the soft skills that employers value most.

Written and spoken communication

Candidates who can express a complex thought in clear terms are not as common as you might believe, and are valued highly by employers in almost every industry. If you can write a clear message, use your words to explain your point of view, or contribute your voice to group discussions, you’ll want to make this known during your job search.

Critical thinking and problem solving

Sure, you can pass a test if your study beforehand and know exactly what to expect. But when life throws you a curveball, how do you react? Can you think on your feet and solve complex puzzles, even those that involve unpredictable factors like human nature? Can you face new situations or unexpected obstacles without losing your cool? Can you think your way out a sticky situation or take advantage of an unexpected opportunity before it passes by? Strong critical thinkers recognize multiple sides of a problem, situation, or argument.


Resilience doesn’t mean staying on your feet and winning every single game you play. It doesn’t mean avoiding risk and setting a low bar in order to maintain an unbroken track record of “success”. It means setting a high bar, taking on big challenges, failing, and bouncing back. Resilient people are no strangers to the ground; they get knocked down on a regular basis. But they don’t stay down. Every time they hit the floor, they learn something, get back up and head back into the game with greater knowledge and experience than they had before.

Social skills

In our modern economy, there are very few jobs and industries that don’t require social interaction. And there are very few paths to success that don’t require making friends, gaining trust and respect, building coalitions, and maintaining a reputation of kindness and dependability. If you have trouble getting others to like and trust you, you’ll need to work on this in order to maximize your potential. If you thrive in this area, you’re likely to climb the ladder much faster.

For more information on the kinds of soft skills that can add power to you job search, reach out to the Hartford career development experts at Merritt Staffing.

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