How to develop the soft skills employers are looking for

A LinkedIn survey finds that employers have been putting greater emphasis on soft skills, but how does one improve?

By Kirk Tinga

Illustration from Veectezy

A recent survey conducted by LinkedIn asked employers what skills they looked for in potential employees. The results showed that there was greater emphasis placed on soft skills, particularly creativity, persuasion, collaboration, adaptability, and emotional intelligence. Given the present circumstances, it is no surprise that close attention is being paid to how employees, potential or otherwise, content with what has turned everyday routines upside down.

But how does one improve, or even obtain, soft skills? These skills are not honed but are more often improved upon. To help fresh graduates and even experienced employees out, here is a list of some different methods to enhance your creativity, collaboration skills, and adaptability to situations thrown at you.

Play games

While playing more Candy Crush is unlikely to help your critical thinking, there are a wide array of board and card games that can help you develop soft skills in adaptability and problem-solving. From having to watch the ebbs and flows of discarded patterns in Mahjong to trying to anticipate the play patterns of your opponent in a chess match, all of these activities can improve the ability to approach a problem from different directions.

Additionally, more cooperative games like the incredibly prescient “Pandemic” offers innovative ways of improving your ability to work in a team. While not exactly a group project, by engaging in similar group-related situations with comparatively lower stakes, you can better learn how to approach such tasks in the actual workplace.

Take more time to reflect

We’ve all heard about the benefits of reflection. With such intangible skills as emotional intelligence, it can be easy to fall into patterns of behavior that we ourselves don’t notice consciously, or even fall prey to bad habits regarding a lack of initiative. By taking the time every few days to reflect on part experiences, these things can be noted, improved upon, or kept up if a positive habit.

Duke University suggests that what must be investigated is the why, or the reasoning, behind a given decision. This allows a learner to form or maintain that kind of behavior in the future. By being able to make these more informed decisions, and being aware of cycles of thought you fall into in given situations, you can better learn to adapt and adjust accordingly.


While this may be the simplest suggestion on the list, it is one of the most crucial, and nerve-wracking. Asking someone whether they think you’re a good communicator isn’t fun even at the best of times. And if you are already someone who places heavy doubt on your ability to communicate it can be even worse.

Still, that reluctance itself can be a manifestation of poor communication skills. The fear of being judged runs through the reluctance not just to communicate in private, but even of presentations and general public speaking. That is why such fear needs to be tackled. By asking people you trust and are comfortable around with their thoughts on your communication, it is possible to ease yourself into it and create a plan for growth.

You can also check out our list of creative online activities students can sign-up for this summer.