What are Soft Skills?

According to the UNESCO, the Soft Skills (also known as Non-Cognitive Skills) are”patterns of thought, feelings and behaviours” (Borghans et al., 2008) that are socially determined and can be developed throughout the lifetime to produce value. Soft Skills can comprise personality traits, motivations and attitudes and are vitally important for the employability and adaptability of European citizens. 


Do you know what different Soft Skills mean?

SkillsMatch project has identified 36 key Soft Skills that are needed for a successful participation in the society and recquired to get a good job. These Soft Skills can be classified in four different categories: self-image and vision of the world; context and performance related; social interaction and methodological, intuitive and lateral thinking. 


Perform one’s tasks in a self-disciplined, reliable and goal-oriented manner. Accept responsibility and be accountable for professional decisions of yourself or others as part of a job or one’s role.


Have patience by dealing with unexpected delays or other waiting periods without becoming annoyed or anxious. 


Manage own feelings, needs and wants appropriately for the benefit of participants, clients or co-workers.


Act upon ideas and opportunities to transform them, over time, into cultural, financial or social value for others.

Goal orientation

Demonstrate strong ambition to successfully complete tasks; define strategies and plans effective for achieving the pursued objectives; give priority to actions that contribute to achieve pursued objectives; demonstrate focus on high performance and quality levels; seek continuous performance improvement


Ability to do what needs to be done, without influence from other people or situations. People with self-motivation can find a reason and strength to complete a task, even when challenging, without giving up or needing another to encourage them.


Develop one’s own ways of doing things, motivating oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.


A proactive and determined attitude to remain a thriving enterprise (organization or activity) despite the anticipated and unanticipated challenges that will emerge.


Look beyond the current and visualise what the future can bring to those with initiative. Take initiatives to come up with improvements.


Stick to one’s tasks in spite of fatigue or frustration. Also a trait based on an individual’s perseverance of effort combined with the passion for a particular long-term goal or end state.

Customer focus

Take actions which support business activities by considering client needs and satisfaction. This can be translated into developing a quality product appreciated by customers or dealing with community issues.


Accomplish a task with concern for all the areas involved, no matter how small. Perform tasks conscientiously and effectively, taking into account all their aspects, no matter how detailed they are.

Respect privacy

Be aware of high level provisions of GDPR; recognise the right to keep personal information private; respect, protect personal data; disclose personal information only to authorised people; be discreet; inform others of rights to privacy

Personal development

Show a positive attitude towards new and challenging demands that can only be met via lifelong learning. Also has the ability of using different channels of perception, learning styles, strategies and methods to acquire knowledge, know-how, skills and competences.

Positive attitude

Display great effort driven by an interest or enjoyment in work itself, in the absence of external pressures. Positive way in which you think about yourself and the way in which you see yourself as a person.


Act within one’s work role to advance the goals and vision of the organisation. Alertness and dedication, shown in continual effort to accomplish a task, or in performance of a duty or obligation.


Achieve objectives using minimum amount of time, effort or cost.

Respect the environment

Apply principles, policies and regulations aimed at environmental sustainability in the workplace.


Alter one’s attitude or behaviour to accommodate modifications in the workplace.


Offer suggestions about the best course of action. Maintain and improve employees’ performance by coaching individuals or groups how to optimise specific methods, skills or abilities, using adapted coaching styles and methods. Guide or teach others by providing relevant knowledge and support.


Reach out to and meet up with people in a professional context. Find common ground and use your contacts for mutual benefit. Keep track of the people in your personal professional network and stay up to date on their activities.

Ethical behaviour

Carry out workplace activities according to accepted principles of right and wrong, including fairness, transparency and impartiality in work practices and conduct towards other people.


Communicate with others with the intention of reaching a common understanding or to resolve a point of difference, without losing sight of one’s own or others’ intentions or goals.


Guide and direct others towards a common goal, often in a group or team. Supervise and motivate a group of people, in order to meet the expected results within a given timeline and with the foreseen resources in mind. Supervise, instruct and plan work for teams or individual members of the team. Set up time schedules and make sure they are followed. It may also include managing staff (employees and subordinates), working in a team or individually, to maximise their performance and contribution. Give instructions, motivate and direct the workers to meet the company objectives and supervise achievement. Change a person’s beliefs, attitudes, intentions, motivations, or behaviours with the help of reasoned arguments.

Motivate others

Get to know what drives and stimulates individuals to achieve goals and personal growth; demonstrate self-motivation and professionalism to inspire people; set realistic goals; engage in transparent planning of work with a clear division of tasks; ensure people understand how their role contributes to achieving corporate goals; encourage people by showing you appreciate their efforts and praising them for good work done; demonstrate people they have your trust; listen attentively and value other people’s opinion; empower people to play a more active role in an organisation.


Engage with others, mainly face-to-face, in a wide range of situations, using strategies appropriate to context and purpose, possibly including formal or informal conversation, meetings, transactions or information exchange.
Apply techniques of communication which allow interlocutors to better understand each other and communicate accurately in the transmission of messages.

Respect for diversity

Understand and respect people who are perceived to have different cultural affinities and respond effectively and respectfully to them. It may also include an active role in promoting social justice and confronting discrimination in the workplace based on cultural identity. Strive for equal benefit for both sexes by assessing the implications for women and men of any planned action, including legislation, policies or programmes, in all areas and at all levels in the workplace.


Work confidently within a group with each doing their part in the service of the whole.

Conflict resolution

Practices concerning the resolution of conflicts or disputes in an organisation or institution. It encompasses reducing the negative aspects of a conflict and increasing the positive outcomes of it by learning from the errors made.


Generate new ideas or combine existing ones to develop innovative, novel solutions. Show a lively interest in novelty, an openness to experience, find subjects and topics fascinating, actively explore and discover new areas.


Formulate questions appropriate to the purpose, such as eliciting accurate information or supporting the learning process. Collect information and data for the purpose of making business and work decisions. Plan the time sequence of our own events, programmes and activities, as well as the work of others.

Decision making

Make a choice from several alternative possibilities.

Manage quality

Realise possible improvements for processes to increase productivity, improve efficiency, increase quality and streamline procedures.

Strategic thinking

Apply generation and effective application of business insights and possible opportunities, in order to achieve competitive business advantage on a long-term basis.


Develop specific goals and plans to prioritise, organise, and accomplish work. Identify operating problems, decide what to do about it and report accordingly.

Critical thinking

Identify the strengths and weaknesses of various abstract, rational concepts, such as issues, opinions, and approaches related to a specific problematic situation in order to formulate solutions and alternative methods of tackling the situation. React to valid and well-reasoned opinions about one’s work in a positive manner. Often containing helpful and specific suggestions for positive change, ability of constructive criticism is highly focused on a particular issue or set of issues, as opposed to providing general feedback on the item or organization as a whole. Pursue excellence in workplace processes, products and activities. Follow procedures which prevent errors in creation and delivery of a product, a solution or a service to customers. Use cognitive abilities to make decisions and to move logically from one idea to another.

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El proyecto SkillsMatch esta cofinanciado por la Dirección General de la Comisión Europea para Redes de Comunicación, Contenido y Tecnología (DG CONNECT), Unidad de Tecnologías Interactivas, en virtud del acuerdo de subvención n. LC-00822001 (OKT2017).

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