Non-technical Skills: Definition, Examples and Guide
Updated 7 March 2023
It's essential to highlight abilities and qualifications when applying for a job so that the hiring manager knows why a candidate is suitable for the role. Non-technical skills include cognitive and interpersonal abilities that applicants may use to supplement technical skills. If you're applying for a job, knowing the relevant skills to include on your resume can give you an advantage over other candidates. In this article, we define non-technical skills, discuss some examples, list non-technical abilities in the workplace and provide tips on highlighting these skills when applying for jobs.
What are non-technical skills?
Non-technical skills, or soft skills, are abilities that relate to how you work and how you interact with others. These skills may not be directly related to a person's profession and instead may reflect characteristics and habits. Interpersonal skills include communication, leadership, teamwork, decision making and situational awareness.
Related: What Are Technical Skills?
Examples of non-technical skills
Companies may want applicants with non-technical talents who can improve themselves and contribute positively to the business. The following are examples of soft skills that companies look for:
Communication skills are very important non-technical abilities in many positions, industries and companies. When working as a team, communication may be crucial to understanding what the work comprises and how to best accomplish it. Effective communication can also be important when conveying technical content in writing.
It's often necessary to complete a project or task by a certain deadline. Therefore, it's important to have effective time management skills. Such duties may include adhering to production timelines, launching products on time and meeting objectives.
Having interpersonal abilities makes it easier to understand perspectives and address workplace issues. Professionals also use these abilities to foster client relationships. These skills can also improve relationships with your colleagues and superiors.
Enthusiasm can refer to a passion for a particular career. Showing enthusiasm may include emphasising a desire to join the organisation or learning more about the industry to improve technical skills. Typically, hiring managers look for applicants who can change a company's culture and invest in its future success.
Problem-solving skills allow professionals to recognise and solve problems. They can also help clients make informed choices and aid with teamwork. A problem-solving process may include identifying the issue, coming up with solutions, implementing the solutions and evaluating their effectiveness.
Creativity allows professionals to examine situations from different perspectives. This varied viewpoint helps bring new options that may challenge previous processes. Creativity is important to many companies because it typically leads to innovation, advancing the organisation in new directions.
Related: Creative Skills in the Workplace
Organisational skills can help create and maintain an orderly workspace, improve efficiency and meet deadlines. In addition, clients can ensure they keep files up to date. Companies favour candidates with good organisational skills as they typically have more focus and use their time, energy and mental capacity more effectively.
Cooperation is the ability to work as part of a group. It may include fulfilling responsibilities or goals to contribute to a larger aim, which often means making compromises with others and providing and accepting feedback. Cooperation skills may also be helpful when working with clients.
Adaptability refers to an ability to process, handle and respond to changes. This skill is especially important when considering alternative options or attempting new things in the workplace. Adaptability may also make it easier to collaborate with others, such as when adjusting an original project plan to align with other people's suggestions.
Prioritisation refers to the ability to determine which duties are more important. It entails separating the most important responsibilities from those that are less time-sensitive. Prioritisation abilities also show a capacity to commit to long-term goals without sacrificing attention to short-term duties.
Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to recognise and respond to personal emotions and the emotions of others. Common characteristics of emotional intelligence are empathy and understanding. Businesses often favour candidates with emotional intelligence because it fosters better communication, customer service, employee retention, morale and teamwork.
Companies use customer service skills to help clients understand their services. These skills can help build relationships with clients and may entail providing them with information to help make an informed decision. Excellent customer service can improve a company's reputation and is a desirable attribute for candidates.
Related: Top 20 Customer Service Skills
How to improve your non-technical skills
Here are six steps to enhance your non-technical abilities:
1. Request feedback
Enquire about your current work performance from persons you trust, such as a colleague or manager. You can gain honest feedback on your strengths and areas for improvement. Use their suggestions and constructive feedback to determine which skills to improve.
2. Observe other people
Consider colleagues you admire or see as successful. Examine their routines and interactions with others and approach them for guidance. You can also try to emulate their positive characteristics.
3. Exercise active listening skills
Active listening can help you receive information more efficiently from your colleagues, clients and managers. It helps you create trust and improve customer interactions. Active listening can also help you gain client feedback and determine areas where you can improve.
4. Participate in professional organisations
Joining industry associations or organisations can help you improve your non-technical abilities. Organisations may offer memberships, training, seminars and other learning opportunities that can help enhance your talents. Joining professional organisations may also develop your professional network.
5. Participate in online courses
You can find beneficial advice for improving your non-technical abilities through online courses, books and podcasts. They can be an excellent investment for improving soft skills. Online resources are often more flexible and can fit around a busy schedule.
6. Search for a mentor
A mentor can be beneficial to any professional and finding one can help improve your non-technical abilities. You can consider finding a mentor who you admire, has experience in the industry and shares your goals or ideas. Some important mentor traits include the following:
passion for their profession
willingness to see others succeed
respect for the views of others
honest and constructive feedback
active listening abilities
Non-technical skills in the workplace
The following are some examples of when non-technical abilities are helpful in the workplace:
Idea generation for a project: You can use critical thinking skills to generate an idea for a team project.
Communication with customers: You can use communication skills to solve customer issues and explain the company's services to new clients.
Collaboration on a project with others: You can use leadership skills to lead your teammates in a team project.
How to highlight non-technical skills
When searching for a job, consider the following techniques for showcasing your soft skills:
Non-technical skills for a resume
Emphasising soft skills related to the position you're applying for shows your suitability for the job. You can include a professional summary that details your non-technical abilities. You may also examine the job description for any specific non-technical abilities and add them to the resume.
Non-technical skills for a cover letter
In the opening paragraph, you can mention your non-technical skills, including examples of previous skill uses. You can also describe situations where you've used certain soft skills and give details of the results. This means hiring managers can quickly analyse your qualifications and compare them to the job description.
Non-technical skills for a job interview
You can use the interview to demonstrate your communication and interpersonal skills. You can also highlight problem-solving and creativity skills by explaining what you can bring to the company. It may be useful to detail particular instances of soft skills in previous roles.
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