Sure, you might be wowed by the summer associate who is an expert in antitrust law, a whiz at cloud computing, and can even do a little computer coding on the side.
But don’t overlook the candidate who shows up with a bright smile and great attitude. Or the one who plays piano on weekends at a popular downtown restaurant.
Increasingly, senior leaders are recognizing that soft skills – such as sociability and creativity – can pay off in ways hard skills like tech know-how can’t. That fact is underscored by a LinkedIn Skills Survey of 4,000 business managers (not just lawyers) worldwide.
“Of the talent professionals – the HR managers and other folks responsible for hiring and training people – who participated in the survey, 92 percent said that soft skills matter as much or more than hard skills when they hire,” writes McKinsey marketing specialist Glenn Leibowitz. “While 80 percent said [soft skills] are increasingly important to company success.”
Count NBA owner and Shark Tank star Mark Cuban among that latter group. He says he places a high premium on soft skills when making personnel decisions.
“One of the most underrated skills in business right now is being nice,” he says in this CNBC article. “I went through my own metamorphosis, if you will. Early on in my career, I was like bam, bam, bam, bam, bam. I might curse. I might get mad. And then I just got to the point, I wouldn’t have wanted to do business with me when I was in my 20s. And so I had to change, and I did. And it really paid off. Nice sells.”
Here Are the Top 5 Skills
A popular misconception is that soft skills are something you either have or you don’t. And if you don’t – well, you’d better brush up on your coding. Nonsense, says CEO Kevin H. Johnson.
“There’s a lot of misunderstanding about soft skills,” Johnson writes here. “Some people believe that you are either born with them or you are not. On the contrary, soft skills are professional competencies that won’t get automated and are unlikely to decrease in value. And, yes, they can be learned and fine-tuned throughout our lives.”
Here are the top five soft skills according to the LinkedIn survey, with commentary courtesy of Paul Petrone:
- “While robots are great at optimizing old ideas, organizations most need creative employees who can conceive the solutions of tomorrow.”
- “Having a great product, a great platform or a great concept is one thing, but the key is persuading people to buy into it.”
- “As projects grow increasingly more complex and global in the age of AI, effective collaboration only grows more important.”
- “An adaptable mind is an essential tool for navigating today’s ever-changing world, as yesterday’s solutions won’t solve tomorrow’s problems.”
- Time Management. “A timeless skill, mastering time management today will serve you the rest of your career.”
And Here are Four Bonus Soft Skills
- Being able to express yourself clearly and concisely – and just as importantly, being a good listener – is indispensable to success in the law.
- Ditto working well with others.
- Just ask Richard Branson. “I’ve never really had the desire to fit in and that’s served me well in business,” he says in this CNBC article. “Innovation doesn’t come from being comfortable and doing what everyone else is doing.
- Again from Branson: “Don’t give up on something straight away – it’s rare that people are good at something the first time they try it,” he says. “If you can get through this stage of doubt and make it out the other side, I promise you, this is where the good stuff happens.”
What soft skills would you add to this list?