June 2020
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A Closer Look at In-Demand Soft Skills
TD Magazine

A Closer Look at In-Demand Soft Skills

Monday, June 1, 2020

Emotional intelligence joins the list of top five soft skills for 2020.

A typo-free resume with the right buzzwords, experience, and a list of hard skills—such as user experience design or project management—are key determiners in helping a job seeker land an interview. But often what solidifies a job offer is the way in which the interviewee uses soft skills to connect with the prospective manager and co-workers—skills that are typically innate and untaught.


In LinkedIn Learning's 2020 Workplace Learning Report, four of the top five soft skills—creativity, persuasion, collaboration, and adaptability—maintain their rankings from 2019, speaking to their essentialness in the workplace. New to the top five for 2020 is emotional intelligence, replacing time management. Accordingly, talent development professionals may find themselves creating more EQ-focused content as that soft skill becomes more desirable in the workplace.

Here is a breakdown of the top five skills and the reasons they're valued:

Creative people bring new perspectives to companies and push off-the-beaten-path ideas, which can help companies flourish. Persuasion is an effective soft skill that requires the majority of a group—think the C-suite or management team—to believe in the employee enough to follow suit with the individual's ideas. Higher-ups value those who can influence forward thinking.


Collaboration is key to moving from one base to another. A team effort is required to ensure that goals are met, relying on each member's insights and capabilities and not just those of one person.

Adaptability requires the ability to switch gears when change happens and to keep moving without too many missteps. The world's abrupt shift to working remotely as a result of COVID-19 is a prime example of being adaptable in the way we work.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to relate to others empathetically, control one's emotions, and be self-aware, among other elements. Those five soft skills are necessary when collaborating with colleagues, whether for a team project or orchestrating an after-work team social.

About the Author

I. Shaun Gholston is a senior associate editor for ATD.

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