What Are Personal Skills?

Personal skills are intangible traits, such as leadership or dependability, that determine how we conduct ourselves and interact with others. Unlike hard skills, such as auditing or editing, personal skills are difficult to measure but are just as important both in our everyday life and in the workplace. They set you apart and give you an advantage over from people whose education and work experience resembles yours.

Are personal skills examples and people skills examples the same?

People skills are a subset of personal skills. Personal skills encompass a broad set of abilities, while people skills are restricted to how we deal with other people. For example, personal skills examples could include a willingness to take on any sort of challenge while the ability to make your colleagues feel comfortable is a people skill

Is there a difference between personal skills examples and professional skills examples?

There is a common misconception that personal skills are the same as professional skills. But the two are different. Some important personal skills you need at work are problem-solving, decision-making and self-motivation. Professional skills, on the other hand, are hard technical skills such as computer programming or machine skills.

So, what are personal skills?

Personal skills are soft skills such as dependability, adaptability, motivation and problem-solving. Professional skills are technical or hard skills. They are specific abilities that can be learned on the job or through education. Examples include computer programming, machine-learning, writing and foreign language skills.

Many people build professional careers using their people skills. Think life coaches, people-skill consultants and public relations managers!

The Importance Of Personal Skills At the Workplace

Long gone are the days when technical skills alone marked you out for a successful career. These days when companies advertise a job, they are inundated with applicants with very similar qualifications. There are millions of candidates with degrees in management, engineering and computer science. Educational qualifications are an essential requirement. Contemporary organizations are more interested in recruiting candidates with the personal skills required to succeed in the real world.

Here is a typical job description for a technology head. Can you spot the number of times a personal skill is referred to in this description?

  • Manage a medium-sized team and enforce ideas for operational excellence

  • Proactively communicate with stakeholders for project updates

  • Escalate issues related to deviation to respective authorities

  • Identify skill gaps in the teams and provide inputs to the training team

  • Assist in the hiring process, training and development

  • Lead, motivate and develop frontline team leaders

  • Foster a culture of teamwork and performance

  • Conduct performance reviews for team leads


Interesting, isn’t it? The full description reads like a list of personal skills required for the job!

What Personal Skills Are Employers Looking For?

There are hundreds of books that lay out the many personal skills that employers seek. Here is a list of the most highly-sought personal skills.

  • Work Ethic:

Among the list of personal skills, work ethic is probably the most sought-after skill. It deals with punctuality, respect for colleagues, and your sense of responsibility at work.

  • Problem-solving: 

This relates to the ability to think on your feet and find a solution to everyday problems, without relying on your manager.

  • Loyalty:

Employers are always looking for candidates who will work professionally and remain rooted in the organization for a long time.

  • Willingness to Learn: 

As organizations change, employers expect their employees to keep pace with the changes. A willingness to learn ensures that you keep expanding your knowledge and continuously develop newer, more productive ways of doing things.

  • Teamwork:

No organization is an island, nor are the people working for it. It is hard to get ahead at the workplace without good interpersonal skills. Teamwork is another crucial skill in the list of personal skills that an employer looks for.


Employers value personal skills because as well as making for a pleasant workplace, people with a good list of personal skills communicate their ideas with clarity and engage with the teams around them. When you work with people who possess excellent personal skills, productivity naturally increases.


If you are looking to improve your personal skills, you may want to check out Harappa Education’s high-impact Speaking Effectively course that teaches you strong communication skills. It will help you deliver ideas with clarity and precision and show you how to use empathy and logic to connect with others.

The course has a section on a concept called the Rule of Three, which teaches you how to make your messages effective and memorable. The Rule of Three is a powerful technique that states that ideas, events or characters presented in threes, whether in oral or written communication, are most memorable.

Individuals with a well-developed list of personal skills are inevitably highly motivated and passionate about their work, shine at their workplaces and build highly successful careers.

Explore the skills & topics such as Professional EthicsSocial Work ValuesExamples of Social Skills & Conversation Skills from our Harappa Diaries blog section to ace your skills.

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