Five Soft Skills that Employers Want Most

Five Soft Skills that Employers Want Most

When your company is searching for the right candidate for an open position, sometimes it really is the fundamentals that matter most. That’s why five specific soft skills have become highly sought after by most employers. In fact, over 9 out of 10 firms are looking for many of the same things these days.

93% of employers say soft skills play a critical role in their hiring decisions. (Source: ZipRecruiter’s 2022 Job Market Outlook for Grads, May 2022).


What Employers Want

ZipRecruiter’s 2022 Job Market Outlook for Grads contained a lot of information about the soft skills that companies want most.

Researchers found that “93% of employers say soft skills play a critical role in their decision about whom they want to hire.” Much of what employers are looking for really does boil down to fundamentals like showing up on time, being willing to learn new things, enthusiasm, and positive attitudes.

According to the job market outlook, the top five soft skills that employers look for most frequently are:

  1. Communication Skills
  2. Customer Service
  3. Scheduling
  4. Time Management Skills
  5. Project Management


Communication is perhaps unsurprisingly the most desired soft skill by a large margin. More than 6.1 million job listings on ZipRecruiter’s website alone list communication as a requirement. The ability to effectively communicate with coworkers and clients has always been important, but our modern age of mobile work has made the skill absolutely paramount. Plus, many companies have been more active with diversity and inclusion initiatives than ever before, which makes communication even more essential as teams incorporate different groups of people.

Soft customer service skills are obviously linked with communication skills along many close parallels, but the added layers of relationship nurturing makes this a category all its own. As the adage says, “the cost to acquire a new customer is always higher than retaining your current customers.” Yet, natural abilities in customer service skills have been on the decline the last few years, so more companies are looking to onboard individuals that are pre-equipped with this soft skill.

Scheduling and time management are much more universal than many of the other soft skills that made the top five. Virtually every single type of profession has a degree of time management or scheduling involved, and they impact our working lives in many other ways. Consider, for example, how relationships with colleagues or customers would be affected differently by our time management abilities. One could either be impressive or infuriating, all because of our use of time.

Another unique thing about time management proficiency is that it’s rather difficult to formally teach. People typically develop these skills through experience, practice, and structured training/mentoring over any kind of traditional instruction. That’s why so many companies are looking for candidates that have a natural aptitude for managing time.

And finally, project management is a bit of an umbrella trait that incorporates many of the other soft skills like communication, time management, and others, but it differs in the way it places a greater emphasis on leadership. Companies are looking for individuals that possess the interpersonal skills effective for things like organizing teams, motivating and engaging personnel, resolving conflict, meeting deadlines, and maintaining a reliable workflow. This skillset would also represent the types of traits that are very hard to formally teach, as a person’s natural leadership abilities often lead to the most successful outcomes. Thus, companies have been actively on the hunt for these types of folks as they are pretty valuable to have.


It’s The Little Things

Business, like life, is often really about the littlest things. A person’s soft skills can be just as important as their professional qualifications in many cases, perhaps even more important. That’s the reason why so many employers have been prioritizing soft skills recently. Our ability to work effectively with one another is deeply rooted in these skills. The more we can leverage them, the more we’ll succeed and our companies will thrive.




Top 5 Soft Skills Employers Look for Most Frequently

(Also includes the number of job postings on ZipRecruiter that list the soft skill as a requirement).

  1. Communication Skills (6.1M)
  2. Customer Service (5.5M)
  3. Scheduling (5M)
  4. Time Management Skills (3.6M)
  5. Project Management (2.8M)

Source: ZipRecruiter’s 2022 Job Market Outlook for Grads, May 2022

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