If You Don’t Have Sufficient Soft Skills, Google Might Not Hire You

Here’s what the company values beyond technical expertise

13 April 2018

Google analyzed its hiring, firing, and promotion data to determine the eight most important qualities of its top-performing employees, according to The Washington Post. The study, Project Oxygen, found that the top seven characteristics are soft skills.

They are: being a good coach, communicating and listening well, possessing insights into others (including their values), having empathy toward and being supportive of one’s colleagues, being a good critical thinker and problem solver, and being able to make connections across complex ideas. STEM skills came in eighth.

Google’s findings aren’t far off from other career-related studies. In a 2015 survey, 77 percent of employers surveyed by CareerBuilder said they were seeking candidates with superior soft skills, and 16 percent of the respondents considered such qualities more crucial than hard skills, according to an article published by IEEE Young Professionals. Meanwhile, an IEEE-USA article posits that technical skills might be enough to help you land a job, but you need soft skills to advance your career.


IEEE offers opportunities for members to build their soft skills. You can, for example, volunteer for a group or project—which can give you an opportunity to work on communication, event planning, and team-building outside of your day job.

You also could join a society. Both the IEEE Professional Communication and IEEE Technology and Engineering Management societies offer publications and conferences that address a wide array of career skills.

Each month, IEEE-USA offers members a free e-book. It often focuses on nontechnical career advice. Previous e-books have addressed project management and continuing education.

Do you agree with Google’s findings? What skills or traits have helped you advance in your career?

IEEE membership offers a wide range of benefits and opportunities for those who share a common interest in technology. If you are not already a member, consider joining IEEE and becoming part of a worldwide network of more than 400,000 students and professionals.

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