Soft skills for the future of work

Soft skills for the future of work

When it comes to applying for a job, having the right soft skills is crucial to employers. Chisholm Careers Counsellor Lawrence Moore explains.


Soft skills are personal attributes that are needed for success on the job, rather than technical abilities you learn at TAFE or university. Examples include having a good work ethic, being able to problem solve and having solid communication skills. 

Chisholm Careers Counsellor Lawrence Moore says these kinds of soft skills are “ultra-important” to employers. In fact, it’s one of the reasons why big firms like PwC are offering higher apprenticeships.  

Whereas in the past, you’d have to go to university, get a degree, do a grad program then start your career in professional services, now there’s another option. With higher apprenticeships, you’re earning, learning on the job and getting your qualification all at the same time.  

 “Consultancy firms would traditionally hire graduates from the top-end universities – the cream of the crop – bring them in only to find it takes them about a year to become productive,” says Lawrence. “They may have all the technical skills and knowledge, but lack soft skills to, for example, be able to deal with a customer. Soft skills are crucial to employers.” 

So, which soft skills are in high demand? Let’s take a look. 

Effective communication skills 

Being able to communicate with a diverse range of people from all walks of life is extremely important in this day and age. Demonstrating that you can deal with all sorts of people, whether they are older, younger, or from different cultures, will hold you in good stead when it comes to employability. 


Being able to collaborate and work things out together is another soft skill employers are looking for, Lawrence says. “In a workplace, you need to be able to recognise that different people have different strengths and to see that as a positive, rather than something to compete with,” he says. 

It’s one of the reasons why interviewers often ask for an example of when you’ve done something effectively in a team that you couldn’t have achieved individually. “A team can be more than a sum of the parts, and that’s an important learning to demonstrate when you’re marketing yourself to an employer,” Lawrence says. 


Dependability is another key soft skill. “This is a huge one for employers, especially when they’re assessing applicants without a proven work history,” says Lawrence. “They want to know you have the work ethic to turn up on time or at least to give lots of notice if you’re running late or not going to make it. Likewise, they want assurance that given a task, you’ll see it through or if you can’t, you’ll ask for help.” 


As we all know, things don’t always go to plan, but it’s important to be able to adapt and be flexible. 

How do you deal with change? How resilient are you?  

Are you good at creating a plan B if plan A doesn’t work? What examples can you provide to prospective employers to show you are adaptable? 

These skills are more essential than ever nowadays, given the changing work conditions. 

Conflict resolution 

The ability to see conflict as a positive thing in a working relationship is vital, Lawrence says.  

“Personally, I’ve always liked people with a different personality type to me,” he says. “I tend to see only the big picture and the positive outcomes. For that reason, I need someone around me who is a nit-picker who can see what could go wrong.” 

Lawrence says that sometimes being able to resolve conflict is a skill that evolves with time. “You may not realise it when you’re 20, but as you get older you may come to appreciate the value of having people who are different from you,” he says. 

Leadership skills 

Even if you don’t aspire to a leadership position, leadership skills are important. In a team setting, for example, you may be required to show leadership skills from time to time, so this soft skill will be looked upon favourably by employers. 

Emotional intelligence is another soft skill that’s highly sought after. Emotional intelligence ties in with having strong social skills and a sense of empathy, which all affect your ability to get along with others in the workplace. 

Problem solving and critical thinking 

Being able to solve problems is another soft skill employers want to see. Can you get past roadblocks? 

Likewise, critical thinking comes in handy on the job. Being able to objectively question, analyse and evaluate is a useful skill, as it can help prevent mistakes from being made and save employers time and money. 

Research skills 

Another soft skill to be aware of is your ability to find information from a variety of sources. Googling something on the internet is one thing, but can you go through an organisation’s library or data system to find information? Again, this can save employers time and money, as you won’t be recreating the wheel. 


Even in technical jobs, creativity is a fundamental soft skill. Creativity isn’t just about coming up with innovative concepts, it’s about thinking outside the box and coming up with solutions that other people haven’t thought of. 


In some organisations, integrity may be the most important soft skill employers are looking for. Whether you’re handling the petty cash in a small retail shop or dealing with sensitive data in the corporate sector, employers want to know you are trustworthy and that you understand how to handle the information you’re privy to.