The five soft skills you didn’t know were important

Article by Carmena Wood, Regional Managing Director at Hays

desk with laptop, promotedSoft skills are more sought after than ever before, according to recruiting experts, Hays.

Almost three quarters (72%) of employers in the UK have experienced skills shortages in the past year, according to findings in the Hays Salary & Recruiting Trends 2020 guide which is affecting employee morale (according to 44% of employers) and productivity (43% of employers).

With this skills shortage in mind, jobseekers are encouraged to highlight their soft skills when applying for a job. Almost half (46%) of employees across the UK are developing their communication skills followed by 43% who are focusing on their problem solving abilities, but what are the soft skills which employees might not know are just as important? Carmena Wood, Regional Managing Director at Hays, gives her insight.

Cultural intelligence

“We live in an increasingly globalised world”, Carmena explains, “and many employers will have or plan to have an international presence to some extent. This means it’s a key priority for business leaders that their staff can build international relations, which requires cultural intelligence and sensitivity.” To improve your cultural intelligence, Carmena recommends learning the basics of a new language, keeping up with the international news agenda and connecting with colleagues overseas.

“Even if your organisation doesn’t have an international reach, proactively improving your cultural intelligence will open up your career opportunities for the future.”


As technology continues to overhaul the working world, employers are looking for professionals who embrace change and technological disruption. “Employers seek candidates who make the effort to stay curious and learn about their industry and the world around them”, according to Carmena. “You can demonstrate your curiosity by telling a potential employer about any new skills you’ve learned or by asking questions during an interview.”

Customer focus

“A strong customer focus is important, no matter what your role is. Customer behaviours are constantly changing and candidates who are attuned to this will stand out to employers. Make it clear that you can help their organisation adapt and compete.”

A willingness to learn

“Lifelong learning has never been as important as it is today”, states Carmena. “Professionals should constantly strive to fill any gaps in their knowledge, which will serve you in your career whether you are comfortable in your role or jobhunting. Keep on top of trends, changes and news in your industry as a minimum.”

Emotional intelligence

This is the ability to understand the emotions of others whilst being mindful of your own. “As digital transformation improves processes and efficiencies it’s human qualities which are the ones professionals need to invest in”, Carmena explains. “Raise your emotional intelligence by maintaining strong relationships with your customers and colleagues and working to the strengths of your team.”

Carmena Wood About the author

Carmena joined Hays in 1986 working for the Accountancy and Finance team in Manchester and went on to pursue broader management roles across the North West region. She was promoted to Regional Director in 1994 for the Greater Manchester area which then comprised of six office locations. Carmena was appointed to the UKI Board in October 2017 and promoted to Managing Director for the North West Region in June 2018.

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