Soft skills are no longer optional. Instead, they are essential

April 02, 2024

In the dynamic landscape of modern business, technical expertise alone is no longer sufficient for sustained success. Employers and recruiters increasingly recognize the value of soft skills — those intangible qualities that define how individuals interact, collaborate, and navigate the complexities of the professional world.

A recent LinkedIn report found the top ranked soft skills among recruiters are: Communication, relationship building, adaptability, problem-solving and business acumen.

These are not just checkboxes on a CV; they are the driving forces behind successful teams and thriving organisations. Here’s a breakdown of each one and why we all need to improve on these so-called soft skills.


Communication stands as the cornerstone of effective collaboration and workplace harmony. In a study where 78% of employers deemed communication skills crucial, it's evident that the ability to articulate ideas, actively listen, and convey information clearly is paramount.

Effective communication ensures that team members are on the same page, reducing misunderstandings and enhancing collaboration.

Clear communication with clients builds trust and fosters lasting relationships, vital for business growth.

Strong communicators inspire and motivate teams, creating a positive work culture.

Relationship Building

Business is inherently social, and the ability to build and maintain relationships is a skill highly valued in professional settings.

The significance of relationship building is underscored by the number of employers who prioritize this soft skill.

Strong relationships with clients lead to loyalty and repeat business.

A cohesive team is built on strong interpersonal relationships, fostering a positive and productive work environment.

Networking (Which is my favourite part of building relationships):

It’s a skill that can be taught and is so essential now, post covid.

We need to train and encourage our teams to get out there and network.

Building relationships with industry peers and professionals opens doors to new opportunities and collaborations.

When you learn how to network, it doesn’t just improve your career – it improves your life too. You just never know where the next conversation could lead, but you do need to have the ability and want to start that conversation.

I could probably write a full article on networking alone, maybe that will be next.


The pace of change in the business world is relentless, making adaptability a critical soft skill. With 58% of employers recognizing its importance, the ability to pivot, learn, and thrive in evolving circumstances is a key determinant of success.

Adaptable individuals bounce back from setbacks, contributing to a resilient workplace.

An adaptable mindset encourages openness to new ideas and creative problem-solving.

Businesses face constant change; adaptable employees ensure the organization can navigate uncertainties.


No business is immune to challenges, and the ability to solve problems efficiently is a soft skill held in high regard by 53% of employers. Problem-solving involves critical thinking, creativity, and resourcefulness.

Swift problem-solving minimizes disruptions and keeps operations running smoothly.

Creative problem-solving leads to innovative solutions, fostering a culture of continuous improvement.

Effective problem-solving contributes to informed and strategic decision-making.

Business Acumen

Business acumen is the ability to understand and make sound judgments about business situations.

With 51% of employers emphasizing its importance, this soft skill is the bridge between technical knowledge and effective business decision-making.

Individuals with business acumen contribute to strategic planning and decision-making.

Understanding business dynamics enhances the ability to identify opportunities for growth and profitability.

A keen business sense allows for effective risk assessment and management.

The narrative around soft skills must change.

Call them strong skills, brave skills, essential skills or leadership superpowers- just stop calling them soft: They are essential skills and anything but soft!!

Rob Cullen

Head of Growth, Engage People Recruitment