9 Soft Skills That’ll Put You Ahead of the Competition, According to Real Hiring Managers

Sure, you’re an Excel wiz, a killer social media marketer, or have years of experience in the sales industry.

But, as you probably know, impressing a hiring manager is about more than just checking the job description boxes. As Muse writer Kat Boogaard says about the importance of soft skills in the job search:

Think about it this way: If you don’t have the technical capabilities required to do the job, you might be well-liked in the office, but actually executing the work will be a constant challenge for you. On the flipside of that coin, possessing the technical know-how—but not the soft skills —will usually end up with you having great ideas, yet being unable to actually communicate and implement those.

Basically, not only is it crucial that you know how to do all the job entails, but that you can do it while working well with others, managing your time properly, and being an open and reliable communicator.

So, what kinds of soft skills matter the most? We asked nine hiring managers to weigh in on the most important traits they look for in candidates.

Here’s what they said:

1. Drive

I want a new hire to come in with the drive to help wherever they can. I don’t want them to be shy about learning something new or jumping on a team and helping out or being open to improving their own skills. We’re a team for a reason. I need people who want to say yes.

Abhilash Patel, Abhilash.co

2. Self-Awareness

In my experience, the most successful hires are driven by an internal desire to do the best work. They’re their own harshest critics, and take pleasure from a job well done. Conscientious people tend to be self-motivated, dependable, and organized. Hard skills can be taught, and investment in training and mentoring will produce the best results for self-aware people.

Vik Patel, Future Hosting

3. Accountability

When hiring a new employee, we look for someone who has a sense of accountability, someone who cares about the end result and does what they say they’re going to do. It’s easy for employees to skip out on their word and it’s sometimes hard to reign them in, which is why accountability is so important.

Dave Nevogt, Hubstaff

4. Tenacity

It’s important to bring on tenacious people who thrive in rocky situations. That’s why, when hiring team members, I look for experiences they had in which they persevered during a time when the odds were against them.

Mark Krassner, Expectful

5. Empathy

A lot of our work is relationship-based with customers, so new employees must have the ability to relate to whomever they’re talking to. It’s the key ingredient to building relationships and building trust. Without real empathy, most conversations end up being transactional. Most customers and clients won’t remember what you’ve said to them, they’ll remember how you’ve made them feel.

Krish Chopra, Nurse Practitioner Clinical Rotations

6. Authenticity

When interviewing a candidate, I determine whether the person seems nice and humble or like they’re bragging and putting on a show. It’s important to find authentic candidates who’re comfortable with themselves so they can be comfortable around others.

Syed Balkhi, OptinMonster

7. Ingenuity

In an increasingly saturated marketplace, I look for new hires with ingenuity, who’re creative and willing to think outside the box. We look for people willing to be self-starters, who take ownership over their roles, and bring new ideas and innovation to the table.

Marcela De Vivo, Brilliance

8. A Fast Learner

Being the CEO of a software company, I see new major technology trends coming up at least every quarter. While it’s exciting to work in an industry that completely changes every year or so, we’re constantly looking for employees who’re comfortable with ever-changing software development languages and frameworks. The soft skill of learning fast is the most important thing we look for in a new hire.

Andrey Kudievskiy, Distillery

9. A Positive Attitude

My motto is: Hire for attitude, train for skill. There’s no attribute more important. A positive attitude is a great predictor for willingness to take on new tasks and do whatever it takes for the betterment of the team.

Brett Farmiloe, Markitors

By UCLA Extension Career Services
UCLA Extension Career Services