10 soft skills every job candidate should have in 2020

According to career experts, January is a peak time for job searching with 22% more jobs applications started in January than in a typical month. But what does it take to stand out from the sea of applicants and get hired in 2020? One answer is soft skills.

A survey of more than 650 employers conducted by Cengage in 2019 found that 73% reported finding qualified candidates was somewhat or very difficult. The same survey also showed soft skills as the most in-demand by employers – at least 65% reported that they look for candidates with these skills. Meanwhile, quantitative skills were sought 47% of the time and computer and technical skills 50% of the time.

So, what exactly do these employers mean by “soft skills?” They’re talking about skills comprised of behaviors, personality traits and habits. And, as the survey showed, employers recognize the importance of these skills now more than ever. So much so that 65% are actively hiring for them.

That’s why Davenport University is committed to equipping its students with the skills they need to rise to the top of the job market. Each year, we ask employers which skills they want their employees to have and then we work those skills into our curriculum.

Soft skills employers are looking for in 2020

Intercultural Competency

In a globally connected world, employees need the ability to adapt to new situations and an understanding of the complex issues that can be present in diverse environments.

Collaborative Teamwork

The ability to work effectively and collaborate with team members is very important. Employers want to hire those who can set aside personal opinions and work well with all members of their organization.


Leadership skills have always been important to employers. They are looking for individuals who show initiative and can direct or facilitate each member’s talents to meet team and company goals.

Written & Verbal Communication

Those with the ability to communicate clearly and concisely are more likely to be hired. Employers seek employees who are well-spoken and possess strong writing skills.

Problem Solving

Unexpected issues come up all of the time in the workplace, so employers want those who can recognize difficulties or complications, identify possible solutions and implement them effectively.

Service Orientation

Employers hire people who will represent their business well by listening to customers and attending to their needs. They also seek employees who are willing to help out in any situation.


Employees with creativity can find new ways to complete their tasks and improve processes. They also add value through ideation and finding new avenues for growth – all assets to an employer.

Critical Thinking

Employers want to hire those with the ability to think logically about problems and how to solve them effectively. They also seek employees who can objectively analyze information and derive value from it.

Time Management

An employee’s ability to prioritize their time effectively is critical. Employers want those who manage their time well because it leads to greater productivity and more opportunity for their business.

Emotional Intelligence

The ability to recognize, understand and manage your emotions, as well as your ability to show empathy, is important. Employers see this as a critical component to developing high performing teams.

What’s next?

Soft skills are an important consideration for recruiters and hiring managers alike when choosing their top candidates for any given position. When you’re applying for jobs, ensure you highlight your strongest soft skills throughout your cover letter, resume and interviews.

Not sure where to start? Take the time to ask yourself which of these skills you have and which skills you need to acquire or improve – your ability in these areas may mean the difference between getting the offer and not. And, as soft skills gain increasing importance, be sure you continue to work on improving your abilities in these areas to increase your value as a job candidate and employee.


No Responses