Career Advice

Top Soft Skills in Demand in South Africa 2021

Published by
Leslie Phiri

The world is ever-changing. Those that are highly likely to succeed would have mastered the art of adapting.

Understand and realise that in order to get a job and keep it, your academic qualifications are not going to be enough.

Decades back, it took hard skills to secure a job. As the world mutates, Soft Skills have become an indelible trait that one needs in order to thrive in the grueling job market.

Before I dwell deeper on the top soft skills in demand in South Africa, it is crucial to first understand the difference between hard and soft skills.

Hard skills entail your typical knowledge on a specific subject. Most people go to college for four years to master the art of doing something.

Almost everyone has a college degree.

The world is laden with people who have mastered certain trades. It is no longer about the qualification or ability.

Focus is now shifting towards how one executes those hard skills.

Soft skills separate degree holders. They define whether one gets the job or not.

It’s crucial to horn your soft skills as the economy begins to open up.


Top soft skill

Let us begin with zoning in on what I mentioned in my opening statement. The world is changing. Its either you adapt or you die.

Things are moving too fast. One has to constantly play catch up to the ever-mutating world we live in.

Not everything you were taught at college will work in practice.

Most jobs usually take one aboard on probation. During that period one needs to exhibit adaptability to emerging situations.

One needs not to be rigid in handling tasks. There is a need to think off your feet and execute given tasks with great adaptability.

A case in point is the current COVID 19 induced lock-down wherein one needs to adapt with haste to the new normal.

Most of the people had never worked from home in their entire working life. Managing such ad hoc circumstances is vital in growing your brand at your workplace.

Emotional Intelligence

South African companies are looking for smart people to employ and one of the most important attributes of smart people is emotional intelligence.

You can have all the degrees the universe allows you to obtain but if you are emotionally unstable, they are useless.

In my interaction with top company executives who are making it big, there is one thing that is distinct about them; Emotional intelligence.

Emotional Intelligence entails one’s ability to understand themselves first before anything else.

I always say in Leadership Seminars, am invited to speak that self-discipline is the highest order of discipline.

If you can handle your emotions in private, you won’t struggle to manage them in public.

Work environments can be very taxing and require high temperate. When pressure is on, you need to handle it with utmost discipline lest you capitulate.

Emotional breakdowns will reduce your stock at the workplace.

Hiring managers are looking for people who have great social skill and are able to work well with others


The art of making money is pretty simple, its all about persuasion.

If you cant persuade, you are going to die poor. Its as simple as that.

Persuasion is a skill that is developed over time and requires dedication to master it.

It often comes naturally to others, yet to some you have to work on it.

One encouraging fact though is once you see yourself landing a job, just know that you have top-notch persuasion skills.

You wouldn’t have landed that job if you had persuaded the hiring manager in the first instance.

However, you cannot sit on your laurels. You need to consistently work on your persuasion skills.

There are others who may feel that their jobs don’t necessarily require any persuasion skills in their line of work. Let me categorically state that is one of the greatest fallacies in the 21st century.

A mechanic needs to persuade the owner of the car that his car has a problem and must be fixed. An IT guru needs to reach out to clients and persuade them to update their machines and adopt fourth Industrial revolution models.

Every job requires one to speak.

Choose your words carefully, speak with conviction, fully understand your trade, and sell your product with enthusiasm!


Life can be boring if things are done the same way over and over again.

The same principles subsist at the workplace. There are times where one needs to come up with creative ideas to solve problems arising within any institution.

Conventional means are not always the answer.

If you are to excel in the demanding South African job market, you seriously need to make sure that you are able to think of new ways of doing things in any institution you may be placed at.

Don’t be afraid to throw new ideas around. Employers are naturally drawn to people who are willing.

Competition in business is very high. There is a constant need for innovation. Creativity and innovation are inseparable.

Embrace creativity, think outside the box and offer solutions to any institution, you become indispensable!


As you cultivate your hard skills, take time to polish your soft skills.

A Japanese principle; Kaizen speaks of the need for continuous improvement. What this means is, as an individual, seek to continuously improve your self.

Hard skills have a ceiling. Soft skills are always there to increase your value proposition in the market.

Develop them, master them and unleash your potential.

Leslie Phiri

Leslie Phiri holds a Diploma in English Literature from the National University of Science and Technology and a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from the University of South Africa. At Rateweb he focuses on news and developing story in finance. He also hosts Rateweb's personal finance podcast. You can get hold of him at

Published by
Leslie Phiri