/ Asked by Arya
All summer my internship manager has been talking about soft skills being important. I'm embarrassed to ask her, I even did some research online, but what exactly are soft skills? And when HR is talking about these skills, what specifically are they referring to?
Answered by Aliyah, Hiring Expert at HP Enterprise, on Monday, July 25, 2016
Soft skills refer to your personality traits that can be an asset to the company.
Take a look at any job description, you will see words or phrases like “strong verbal communications skills” “able to adapt”, “strong problem solving skills”, “strong work ethics”, “interpersonal skills” or “project management skills”. All of these are soft skills; abilities you have developed over time and are able to give examples of how you gained these skills.

Answered by Lori, Hiring Expert at Cigna, on Thursday, July 28, 2016
No need to be embarrassed! Soft skills are the skills that you use when you are building relationships with other people, or showcasing your strengths. They may be described as interpersonal skills, teamwork, decision making, and creativity, to name a few. These are the skills that really determine someone's career trajectory since they are the key components to how far someone can go in an organization. For example, you may have excellent accounting skills, but if you can't talk to business partners, it will be hard for you to move your career forward. The ways you can build on these areas are to read books, volunteer for projects where you can get experience and learn from peers and mentors. More experienced colleagues can share their career lessons learned and help give you guidance on how to handle situations. Good luck!
Answered by Steve, Hiring Expert at Caterpillar Inc., on Friday, July 29, 2016
No need to be embarrased.  It is important to ask these types of questions because it can only help you as your career develops.  When you hear the term soft skills, it is referring to those types of personal traits that are difficult to measure and can only be truly evaluated by someone who has worked directly with you for some time.  These are things like your ability to effectively work within a team, how well you communicate, both verbally and written, how you interact with higher level leaders, do you speak up and participate in meetings, and your sense of urgency, etc.  These are things that can only be demonstrated on the job and the only ones who truly know how well you do these things are those who have worked directly with you.  Most importantly, these are the things that stick with you, fairly or unfairly.  If you have a bad interaction with someone, that will be what they remember about you.  They won't remember the actual work you produced.  It is for this reason that your manager is emphasizing the importance of these soft skills. 
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