In the workplace, skills are separated by being either hard skills or soft skills. Hard skills are generally easier to come by than soft skills. There is a need for both types of skills in the workplace, however finding an individual that possesses both hard and soft skills can be challenging for many recruiters. It is possible to have both types of skills, but it will take some work. I find that most of my colleagues are either in one group or the other, with a few that possess both types of skills. The important question is, what is a soft skill? Do you know the difference between a hard and soft skill?

Soft skills You Need for 2020 and Beyond

Hard skills are things like being skilled in SQL server management or Javascript programming. It is easy to convey your hard skills to a recruiter or hiring manager by giving them a resume and pointing out your certifications and/or experiences. Some employers test your hard skills by giving you a pre-employment test or having you go through a round of technical interviews. With soft skills, it’s much more difficult to vet them in the interview process. Soft skills are more in line with creativity, interpersonal communication, presentation skills, etc. For the purpose of this article, let’s focus on what the top soft skills are and how you can gain them or improve upon the skills you have.

1. Creativity

Everyone needs to improve upon their creativity skill. The explosion of the Internet has zapped our ability to have original creative thoughts it seems. How many websites like Pinterest or Etsy exist where people showcase their creativity? There are alot! Any time we need an idea or need to find a way to do something, we turn to the Internet. We need to experience a renaissance of creativity in the world, especially in the workplace. Come up with good ideas, brainstorm with your team and do something original. Creativity is one of the most desired soft skills in the workplace, shore up your creativity and get yourself out there.

2. Communication

It is so hard to work with people that just cannot communicate effectively. Communication is another soft skill that is in high demand. According to Career Contessa, “Communication soft skills are the tools you use to clearly and effectively converse with others, set expectations, and work with others on projects.” How important is that? Everyone needs to be able to work with a team and to clearly communicate their needs and expectations in the workplace. Become a better communicator by collaborating with your team and sharing your insight. Communication isn’t just verbal either, be aware of your body language and make sure you are not being closed off or confrontational.

3. Adaptability

Change is very difficult for many to adapt to, but in the workplace it is an absolute necessity. When change comes, and it will, you need to be able to adapt to it and keep moving forward. Unfortunately for a lot of people, when chance comes they freeze and become inflexible and then end up out of a job or unable to perform their job satisfactorily. When your organization implements Agile methodology and expects you to adhere to its principles for project delivery, you have to be all in on Agile and adapt to using it. Being able to adapt in the face of change is a key skill that is in high demand, especially with what we are experiencing in 2020 with the COVID situation. You may have to adjust to working from home and collaborating over Zoom meetings or Google hangouts.

4. Emotional Intelligence

The most intriguing entry on this list is by far emotional intelligence. Some call it Emotional IQ, either way you call it, it portrays the same meaning. Being able to control your emotions and use them to your advantage is an amazing skill to learn and eventually master. When it comes to workplace conflict, are you able to manage your emotions appropriately or do you just explode? Additionally, emotional intelligence means learning how to manage others emotions. If you are a manager or team lead of some sort, you will have a group of individuals all bringing different emotions to the table, and you have to be able to manage them effectively. Read Daniel Goleman’s book Emotional Intelligence for a good start on getting better at this key skill.

5.  Listening

Last but not least, being a good listener is key to improving your soft skills. Don’t confuse listening with hearing. It’s one thing to hear someone and a whole different thing to listen to someone. How often are we thinking of a response or daydreaming when in a conversation with someone else? A good listener employs active listening where they are engaged with the person in the conversation. Asking questions and probing the individual in conversation as opposed to just zoning out or pushing your own agenda.

Soft Skills Shine in an Interview

Learn these soft skills. It might be hard to put them on a resume, but during an interview, they will shine if you can sharpen them over time. As you get feedback from colleagues, apply it so that you grow in these key skills. When you can combine hard and soft skills together, your career will be unstoppable.

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Greg Stuart is the owner and editor of He's been a VMware vExpert every year since 2011. Greg enjoys spending time with his wife and 3 kids. He has 20 years of IT experience and currently works as an IT Consultant both in the private and public sector. Greg holds a BS in Information Technology and an MBA degree. He currently resides in Southeast Idaho. You can follow him on Twitter @vDestination, read his blog ( and listen to his podcast (