Soft Skills

7 minute read

Why Employers Will Value Soft Skills Over Tech in the Age of AI

Claudia Buckley

Claudia Buckley

As artificial intelligence (AI) becomes more and more integrated into our daily work routines, knowing how to use AI tools is becoming less of a 'nice-to-know' and more of a 'need-to-know' skill. But what is also becoming more and more apparent is that very soon, machine learning and AI technologies will become so commonplace that this will become a standard skill, much like being able to send an email. (You don't see too many people putting that as a skill on their resumes now, do you?) And so we find that even now, employers are beginning to place greater value on human and soft skills.

This shift is driven by the realization that while technical proficiency is essential, the uniquely human abilities to think critically, communicate effectively, and lead with empathy are what truly drive innovation and success.

The rise of AI and its impact on the workforce

Make no mistake — AI technologies are transforming industries by automating repetitive tasks, analyzing large datasets, and even assisting in decision-making processes. These tools have become more sophisticated and accessible, and virtually every website has an associated AI tool to make interaction with their platform easier, quicker, or more helpful. Therefore, the ability to use them is becoming a baseline requirement rather than a standout skill. Translation? The focus is shifting towards skills that machines can't replicate.

For instance, AI can process and analyze data faster than you or I can, but it lacks the capacity for nuanced judgment and emotional intelligence. This is where soft skills come into play. Employers recognize that employees who can combine technical know-how with strong interpersonal abilities are invaluable assets.

4 key soft skills that employers prioritize

Let's face it: almost anyone can learn how to push a button and share the results with their boss or clients. But it takes special skills to understand context, interpret behavior, and even to know what problem you're trying to solve. Here are the top 4 skills that employers will look for evidence of on your resume and that you may be asked to demonstrate in job interviews.

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1. Critical thinking and problem-solving

While AI can provide data-driven insights, the ability to interpret these insights and make sound decisions remains a human forte. Critical thinking involves analyzing information, evaluating different perspectives, and developing solutions that are both innovative and practical.

2. Emotional intelligence (EQ)

EQ is the ability to understand and manage one’s own emotions, as well as recognize and influence the emotions of others. High EQ is needed for effective leadership, teamwork, and conflict resolution, making it a highly sought-after skill in the workplace.

3. Communication skills

Clear and effective communication is essential for working with colleagues, presenting ideas, and managing client relationships. And this includes verbal, written, as well as non-verbal (body language) skills. As remote and hybrid work become more prevalent, being able to convey information and build relationships through digital channels is crucial. What you write in a Slack message or in an email may be quite different from what you'd say to someone face-to-face. Employees who are able to pick up on social cues and communicate well with their audience are considered an asset to the organization because they are easier to work with and not easily replaced.

4. Adaptability and resilience

The rapid pace of technological change requires employees to be adaptable, agile, and resilient. These skills enable individuals to navigate uncertainty, embrace new challenges, and continually learn and grow in their roles, even amid an environment characterized by complexity and risk.

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Integrating soft skills with technical proficiency

This doesn't mean technical skills are irrelevant—far from it! Rather, the most effective employees are those who can integrate both. For example, a project manager who understands AI tools can leverage these technologies to streamline workflows and improve efficiency. But their success will ultimately depend on skills like communicating effectively with their team, solving problems creatively, and managing stakeholder expectations.

To develop a well-rounded skill set, your best bet will be to seek opportunities for continuous learning and professional development. Look out for course libraries that provide a flexible and accessible way to enhance both technical and soft skills. By taking courses in areas like project management, communication, and emotional intelligence, you'll be able to stay ahead of the curve and remain competitive in the job market.

The most effective employees are those who can integrate both technical and soft skills on the job.

It's also common sense to stay up-to-date with relevant AI tools within your field of work. For instance, if you're a writer, don't be afraid to try out ChatGPT or other generative AI tools. Using an AI tool doesn't mean you've suddenly "stopped using your brain," as some naysayers would have you believe, but it can give you ideas you wouldn't have thought of on your own, or, when used another way, help structure your thoughts into ideas that are clear and understandable. It will still be up to you, however, to communicate with your audience in language you know they will relate to, as conversational writing is generally more appreciated by people as being more authentic.

Here's another use case: if you are in charge of creating training courses for your team, there are possibly hundreds of tools that can help you create elearning courses. Here at GoSkills, our AI course authoring tool not only generates content, but structures it into course format, complete with lessons and quizzes, uploading it directly to the course platform. Using technology to help with these tasks allows more time for the human elements, like fact-checking, analyzing the impact of your course, and working with learners to improve their knowledge.

Expert’s take

The importance of soft skills isn't going away anytime soon and is, in fact, making a resurgence as AI becomes the norm. Employers and customers are increasingly valuing human and soft skills that make individuals unique. By focusing on critical thinking, emotional intelligence, communication, and adaptability, professionals can ensure they remain indispensable in the workplace.

Ready to develop your soft skills? Check out GoSkills' soft skills courses on effective communication, emotional intelligence, business writing skills, and more.

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Claudia Buckley

Claudia Buckley

Claudia is a certified Microsoft Office Expert (Excel Specialist), project manager, and business skills instructor at GoSkills. She has spent over 20 years in employee professional development. Claudia has a Masters Degree in Business Administration and a Diploma in Educational Psychology. In her spare time, she reads mystery novels and is an amateur genealogist. View her profile here.