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Skill Up: What Are Soft Skills And Why Are They Important?

You might have heard people talk about "soft skills" before and wondered what exactly they mean.Well, they're not talking about software or softball or anything fluffy...

Soft skills is a term often used by careers advisors and employers to describe the kind of essential personal skills and social capabilities people need to be able to do most jobs.

The best thing about soft skills is you don’t need qualifications to get them and you can start working on them right now, whether you are at school, in training or in work.

'Soft skills tend to come from life experience'

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Here are some examples of soft skills:

Time management

Showing up for work and meetings on time, sticking to scheduled breaks, getting your work done in time to meet your deadlines. This shows that you can take responsibility and manage yourself. Time management is one of the most important personal skills you can have in the workplace.

Personal presentation

Dressing in an appropriate way for work and generally being neat and tidy. Your body language is important too. Do you enjoy a good slouch? Ask a friend whether you look bored or interested when you slouch. An employer will think the same thing as your friend does when they look at you. Personal presentation shows you are self-aware and understand the effect that your appearance and behaviour has on others - one of the best personal skills to have.


Being polite and helpful with colleagues and customers on email, in person and on the phone, including speaking up when there’s a problem. Just saying a friendly hello to everyone at the start of the day gets the ball rolling with your communication skills!

Team work

Being able to get on with the people you work with and working together to get things done is a vital part of most jobs.


Staying positive at work even when things get a bit challenging, using your initiative to help people out even when you haven’t been asked to, owning up if something goes wrong and learning from your mistakes. Again, this shows that you are committed to your work and can take responsibility for your own personal skills.


Believing in yourself and all your personal skills can help you work with people better, take on difficult new tasks and generally achieve all the things you need to do to be a master of soft skills.

Activity: What soft skills do you have?

We’ve introduced you to the idea of soft skills, but how many do you have down? We have a feeling it could be more than you think. Grab a pen and write down an example of when you've done something to demonstrate each of the personal skills above.

If this is all too easy then check out our article on why individual soft skills are important to employers.

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What are key skills?

A list of skills for the workplace

Thanks to Right Futures and Stoke Newington School & Sixth Form for providing valuable input into the SkillUp series.