Soft Skills

The Skills Employers Look For

“Honesty is the best policy.” This phrase exists and has been so widely adopted because it’s 100% true. When it comes to good business, operations cannot function over time without truth. Employers need to believe and know that employees are honest to ensure job security, keep costs down, and provide the best product possible to the customer. Employee integrity ranks among the very top of all soft skills looked for in potential candidates in this day in age. Always tell the truth, and you can be sure that your integrity (and career!) will be on the right track from the start.


Positive AttitudePositive Attitude
The importance of attitude management can never be overstated. Attitudes are very contagious, which is why it’s so important to keep a positive attitude throughout the day. Hiring people with great attitudes enhances business in every way. Efficiency, production, innovation, and profits all trend upward when people with positive attitudes are behind the work being done. Keep a positive attitude in the workplace, and your career will soar to new heights.


Work EthicWork Ethic
It’s not surprising to anyone that employers look for people with a very strong work ethic. Employees with strong work ethics get more done in a shorter amount of time, get the work done correctly, and look for more work after the current job or project is complete. Strong work ethic is a key soft skill that can be developed, but the employee is required to actually care about the work being done. A strong work ethic also includes the desire and ability to show up to work on time, every time. Needless to say, potential employees with the strongest work ethics are usually the people that get the job or promotion. If you’re serious about settling into a successful professional path, maintaining and exhibiting a strong work ethic will do wonders for your career, and set a great example for those around you.


Communication and ListeningCommunication and Listening
Clear, concise, and accurate speech and writing are just as important as listening and reading, especially in the manufacturing industry. Employers appreciate specific and accurate reporting without being too wordy or drawn out. In business, time is money, and employers dislike having their time wasted. Often, unseen financial costs and other problems can simply be avoided outright when communication is kept as concise as possible, but also as clear as possible. Confusion costs money! You will be hard pressed to find an employer that does not rank listening skills among the very top soft skills they look for in potential employees. In fact, listening is so important that some employers even use it as a way to gauge leadership potential among management candidates. If you want to get ahead in any field, you should listen at least as much as you speak.


Employees that are happy and proud to be part of a team will go further in their careers than employees who aren’t, or simply can’t be, team players. Being part of a team means helping fellow employees, filling in when needed, and leading through service by example. We’ve all been taught as children that good teamwork yields better results than working alone. This lesson really is true, and you will soon have many opportunities to put your teamwork skills to real-world use, should you choose manufacturing as a career path.


Some people would tell you that good judgment is more of an instinct or natural born trait than a skill, similar to a type of common sense. And to an extent, these people are correct. However, judgment can indeed be learned and practiced for instances where the right thing should be done because something of great importance is on the line. Remembering to take that extra moment to pause and think things through just a bit more before reacting to unexpected situations is often the difference between favorable and unfavorable outcomes.


All business, especially manufacturing, features variables that are constantly changing. The capacity to react positively and adapt to unexpected change is a crucial skill in today’s manufacturing organization. Good employers know that even the best laid plans are subject to destruction, therefore they look to surround themselves with employees that can react quickly and intelligently when said plans change without warning.

“We can teach most people the skills and tasks we need them to do... what we cannot teach is common-sense, work ethic and a great attitude.”

Steve Stewart
Director of Human Resources,
Excel Foundry & Machine

What are soft skills?

The Hard Facts

Sign up to receive updates!

Stay Connected!

Illinois workNet Centers are an equal opportunity employer/program. At Illinois workNet Centers, auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities. All voice telephone numbers on this website may be reached by persons using TTY/TDD equipment by calling TTY (800) 785-6055 or 711.
©Copyright 2013 Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity