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The Role of Soft Skills in Today's Job Market

Posted on 07 February 2024

The Role of Soft Skills in Today's Job Market

​6-minute read

Imagine a scenario where your hard skills perfectly align with the job requirements. You not only meet the minimum skill criteria but surpass them. Even the 'nice-to-have' qualifications are well within your grasp. You have the necessary industry experience, and your salary expectations are comfortably within the budget.

Yet, despite all this, you receive a rejection. The truth is this situation is not unique; it's something many job seekers in today's competitive market encounter frequently. Hard skills, while essential, can only take you so far in the hiring process. It's your soft skills that can often make the difference in securing a position.

However, soft skills are an area where many job seekers struggle to understand their significance. To shed light on this issue, we've enlisted the expertise of two Talent Acquisition professionals: Caroline Mekelburg, Head of Talent Acquisition at Amperecloud, and Maksim Atanasov, Lead Recruiter for Ampeco. They will help clarify what we mean by soft skills, how these skills are assessed in the hiring process, and the most sought-after soft skills in today's job market.

Our goal is straightforward: to provide you with actionable insights on how to showcase the right soft skills during your next interview, giving you a competitive advantage over other candidates.


What do we specifically mean when we say ‘soft skills’?

The concept of 'soft skills' is not a recent one. We've previously discussed it from our unique viewpoints, but it's always beneficial to revisit this subject with a fresh perspective. The demand for skills is constantly evolving, and what internal talent teams seek may differ from external perspectives.

Caroline explained that soft skills encompass the characteristics related to behaviour, attitude, and competencies. While these skills can be cultivated over time, they are also significantly influenced by one's life experiences during their upbringing.

Maksim further added the critical importance of being aware of the soft skills that interviewing teams may be seeking. This awareness not only enhances your application's appeal but also makes it easier to find the right team when you know that your skills will be appreciated and understand why they matter.


At what part of the interview process is the evaluating team looking at soft skills?

Although we might have had a general understanding of soft skills, our research for this article has brought to our attention how infrequently people realise the extent to which soft skills are assessed within an interview process. In addition to our discussions with Caroline and Maksim, we conducted a survey of over 100 job seekers, posing the question: "At what point in the interview process do you believe your soft skills are under evaluation?"

Surprisingly, more than 75% responded that soft skills are evaluated during the initial interview, while only 10% correctly recognised that they are assessed continuously throughout the process.

Caroline pointed out that even before a job is advertised, the hiring team carefully examines the existing team, future projects, and the long-term needs for the new hire to determine the skills required, not just for today but for the future.

Subsequently, the team identifies the most critical soft skills and assesses them not only during the initial screening call but also at each stage of the interview process. Each interviewer might focus on specific soft skills and may evaluate the same set to identify patterns. This systematic approach aids them in the evaluation phase, enabling them to arrive at a more informed decision regarding the best fit for their team.


What key soft skills do you feel are a must-have in todays market?

Understanding the frequency of soft skills evaluation is important, but determining which skills are currently in demand and where to strategically showcase your skills in the process can be a more challenging task.


Growth Mindset

Coined by American psychologist Carol Dweck and widely known since the release of her book ‘mindset’, those that associate and hold firm the qualities of a ‘growth mindset’ will naturally pique the interest of hiring teams more according to Caroline.

A growth mindset if not known already is an individuals belief that ‘their talents can be developed (through hard work, good strategies, and input from others)

Teams that develop a growth mindset mentality report employees feeling more empowered and committed to the long-term goals of the organisation. They also have greater collaboration and innovation as shared by Dweck in her Harvard Business Review article (What Having a “Growth Mindset” Actually Means (

Being aware of this you can see why Caroline and other Talent teams rate the growth mindset as desirable soft skill as the benefits will be seen not just in the individual’s performance but the wider teams and with each employee that has a desire for growth joins, the interest to further grow yourself becomes infectious, creating a flywheel of sorts.



Both Maksim and Caroline shared the significance of communication in various forms, including both verbal and non-verbal modes.

Maksim explained how verbal and non-verbal communication skills are closely tied to one's ability to sell effectively (we will delve deeper into this later). He and others believe that this capability is indispensable even in non-traditional sales roles. Maksim's perspective on communication extends to its role in engaging with stakeholders in a professional and meaningful manner. It encompasses the ability to establish rapport, foster trust, and facilitate the smooth progression of projects, a viewpoint shared by Caroline.

Being an effective communicator ultimately comes down to whether you are someone who simplifies or complicates matters if hired by the team. Are you a contributor or an obstacle remover? This doesn't mean you should merely agree with everything but rather professionally express dissent while still taking others' opinions into consideration.



The importance of flexibility as a skill can vary depending on the company you are applying to. However, many organisations value candidates who can showcase adaptability in their skill set. A younger team may require a high degree of daily flexibility or adaptability in the roles they undertake, while a larger, more established team, though still valuing this skill, may not demand it to the same extent.

Caroline explained the need to be aware of the team's position within their business cycle. Understanding this context enables you to provide examples that best highlight your flexibility in a way that aligns with their specific situation. Markets can shift, projects can change direction, and those who can exhibit flexibility have a better chance of convincing the hiring team that they are the ideal fit for the role.


Problem Solver

Continuing our discussion on the need for companies to adapt, another highly valued soft skill, as pointed out by Caroline, is the ability for deep problem-solving. In the contemporary work environment, we frequently encounter intricate challenges, and your proficiency in recognising, analysing, and effectively resolving these issues can set you apart during the hiring process.

Problem-solving is a crucial skill that extends across a wide spectrum of roles within an organisation. It's highly likely that, at some point, regardless of your specific position, you'll need to employ this skills.

To delve deeper into problem-solving, consider aspects such as critical thinking, analytical skills, creativity, decision-making, time management, resilience, and empathy. While we won't delve into each of these in detail in this article, it's essential to assess your own proficiency in these areas and identify areas that might require further development.

It's important not to underestimate the value of effective problem-solving skills in bolstering your candidacy, particularly in the context of start-up companies.



The saying "We have two ears and one mouth for a reason – to listen twice as much as we speak" is likely familiar to you. While in the context of an interview, it's essential to convey your qualifications, the art of deep listening remains a fundamental skill that virtually all teams value, even if it's not explicitly mentioned in their evaluation criteria.

Maksim shared the significance of being fully present, actively listening, and providing accurate responses. These skills not only help establish rapport but also demonstrate your ability to comprehend instructions effectively. We've all probably encountered a situation where an interview question is quite broad, and the interviewer doesn't immediately confirm or deny your answer. In such cases, we tend to keep talking, searching for cues on when to stop.

Instead, it's wise to truly listen to the question, inquire for clarification if necessary, and respond with confidence, concluding your response at an appropriate point.



Whether you're a fan of it or not, sales is an intrinsic component of almost any job. It involves persuading stakeholders to support a particular course of action, negotiating timelines with customers, or demonstrating to a hiring team why you're the best fit for the position.

While sales is closely tied to effective communication, Maksim, along with our perspective, underscores the need to give it special consideration. Many of us, especially those not directly engaged in sales processes, can often overlook its significance.

Your ability to confidently grasp a problem and connect it to a potential solution based on your own experiences can make a hiring team envision you as a valuable addition to their group. If you struggle to construct a compelling narrative, consider following the commonly used STAR framework when responding to behavioural-based questions. These questions typically start with phrases like "tell me when" or "explain to me."

In your response, outline the Situation at the outset, the Task that was set, the Actions you took both individually and as part of a team, and the Results you achieved. Additionally, you can incorporate a double "R" by including Reflection to showcase self-awareness.

This approach will help you stay focused on delivering a comprehensive answer and enable the team to follow a clear beginning, middle, and end in your response.


What advice would you give to someone who might be struggling to identify what soft skills they should improve?

Many of us struggle when it comes to acknowledging our skill weaknesses. It can be difficult to engage in honest self-reflection and recognise areas that require improvement, especially when these shortcomings are pointed out by others.

Caroline highlighted the importance of regular self-reflection, not just when seeking a new job. She suggests that consistent small improvements over time can lead to significant overall growth. Unlike hard skills, the benefits of soft skill development may not be immediately apparent, so it's crucial to pay attention to the finer details and maintain a steadfast commitment to improvement.

Maksim advises job seekers to put yourself in the shoes of the individuals you are trying to persuade when relating to a job search process. This entails conducting thorough research to pinpoint specific areas of interest to the team, which may vary depending on their unique circumstances, requirements, industry, business age, and other factors. By doing so, you can shine a light on and concentrate your efforts on enhancing the soft skills that matter most to them.


Soft skills are equally important to hard skills. Researching this topic with the support of Caroline and Maksim has only confirmed this further to me. If you truly believe that your hard skills match the requirements but there is still something amiss, peel back the layers of soft skills and actively look to enhance them. Remember, as this process is gradual you still might receive rejections but you’re not going to go from a low communicator to a rhetoric expert in a week.

Thank you to Caroline and Maksim for sharing their knowledge around this topic. Please share among your networks if you believe someone could learn from reading this and let’s collectively bring simplicity to the chaos of recruitment.

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