by N. Purcell | Sept. 12, 2022 | 5 Min Read

Why soft skills are now called power skills


There’s been a shift recently to finding another name for soft skills, and let’s just start by saying we’re all in on finding a better name for soft skills.

“Soft skills” isn’t a new term. Some sources say the term originated in the 1970s within the U.S. Army. The intention was to distinguish between skills that involved working with people (soft skills) and those that involved working with machinery (hard skills). And that term stuck. Not only did it stick, but its usage spread from the military throughout the working world.

As the term has evolved, many people are trying to find another way to say soft skills. Why? Because a powerful skill set deserves a powerful term. If you want to recruit and retain a team of highly skilled employees, you’ll want to pay attention to these skills and learnhow to both identify and develop them.

Today, you’ll learn everything you could ever want to know about soft skills and how the term is evolving into something greater in the professional world.

What are soft skills?

Soft skills are personality traits, competencies, and talents that shape how people approach their interactions with others, tasks, and challenges. Unfortunately, they’re often trickier to measure than hard skills like coding or videography, and they’re often left off of resumes and out of hiring processes.

That’s been changing in recent years, though. Hiring managers and recruiters increasingly value soft skills and seek them in candidates. Consider this list of the top four skills employers are looking for based on one report by Monster:

  • Dependability
  • Teamwork/collaboration
  • Problem-solving
  • Flexibility

That’s right. Of all the possible skills and competencies employers could seek in candidates, the top four are all soft skills. Here are a few more examples of soft skills in addition to the ones listed above:

  • Communication
  • Critical thinking
  • Leadership
  • Creativity
  • Time management

Beyond understanding the fundamentals of what are soft skills, it can help to think about how they show up in real life. For example, someone highly skilled in communication may be a key collaborator on a team, ensuring all ideas are heard and acknowledged. In comparison, someone skilled in creativity may be able to identify unique opportunities to solve a problem that others can’t. Both of these are examples of soft skills in action.

Mo Bunnell said in The Snowball System: “Likability is a soft skill that leads to hard results.” The way an employee interacts with others matters. And the difference these skills can make on a team goes far beyond just being enjoyable to be around.

Given all this, let’s explore a new way to refer to soft skills.

What’s a better name for soft skills?

Using the term “soft” to describe these critical skills might lead to the perception that they aren’t as important as technical ones. People may undervalue these skills not just because they’re called “soft” but also because they can be harder to measure. However, according to research, soft skills can be attributed to 85% of job success.

Soft skills are essential to professional success, and we also know that perception is everything. So let’s consider another name for soft skills more relevant and indicative of their importance.

Here are a few alternatives:

  • Essential skills
  • Transferable skills
  • Emotional intelligence/EQ skills
  • Hirable skills
  • Power skills

In our opinion, power skills is a soft skills synonym. It’s popping up more and more in the business world and spaces focused on hiring and recruitment. As people realize howcritical these skills are to success, there’s a shift to ensure their name does them justice.

Why does saying “power skills” instead of “soft skills” matter?

What are power skills? Power skills are a better name for soft skills. It captures the breadth of skills included and their potential for impact. “Power” is more aligned with the importance of these traits than “soft.”

Recruiters are placing more emphasis on evaluating power skills early in the hiring process. They know these skills are some of the best indicators of long-term success in a company and are focusing on ways to find out which candidates have them as early as the initial interview.

It’s possible that soft skills, often left off job applications entirely, will eventually become essential job requirements. Companies who want to keep up with this trend may want to start thinking about how they’re identifying and developing soft skills, both in their candidate pools and among their current team of employees.

Develop your team’s power skills with Unboxed

Since we’ve decided on a better name for soft skills, it’s time to do our part to ensure that soft skills are now called power skills moving forward. These skills have the greatest opportunity to make a difference in professional settings. Power skills are key indicators of success, and they’re transferable to any job function in any context.

Despite what some may believe, employees need more than hard skills to be successful. To leverage power skills in your company, you’ll want to develop them at all levels of your organization. And yes, they can be taught. But how?

That’s where we come in.

Unboxed Training & Technology is the go-to company for employee training. We offer turn-key and custom training of all types, especially those that develop power skills. As experts in learning technology, we’re here to ensure you’re up-to-date on the most current trends and implement effective training tools that enhance your employees’ learning paths.

Request a demo of our LMS, Spoke, to equip your team with the power skills they need to be the best employees.

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