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Soft skills: an introduction

Employers often throw around the phrase “soft skills” ambiguously. What are soft skills? How are they different from hard skills? Why do they matter, and how can I develop them?

Throughout this series, we’ll delve into all of these questions – but first, let’s assign some concrete definitions: Hard skills are often referred to as technical skills. Hard skills are typically taught in a uniform and constant manner and don’t vary from job to job (e.g. mathematics, programming languages, machine operation, etc).

Soft skills are the complete opposite. They are more abstract, difficult to teach in a uniform manner, and often times vary from job to job (e.g. interpersonal skills, patience, communication skills, persuasion).


College courses may directly evaluate your technical skills, but soft skills are just as important. In most professions, you’ll have to work with others to succeed and deliver. Here, the ability to develop relationships and interact with others effectively becomes invaluable.

In corporate settings, the ability to maneuver oneself professionally, convey ideas clearly, and build positive relationships is essential. Becoming well versed in soft skills allows you to maximize the efficacy of your technical skills augmenting your output and value.

Right now, soft skills might seem like an abstract idea, but over the course of this series we’ll break apart the ambiguous language and broad advice into useful strategies and insightful ideas.

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