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Sam Jarman 👨🏼‍💻
Sam Jarman 👨🏼‍💻

Posted on • Originally published at


It's Time. Let's Rename "Soft Skills"!

Not soft skills, core skills

Hi There,

As we know, our 'soft skills' are super important, and these skills include but are not limited to: verbal communication, written communication, influencing skills, empathy, personal skills, pitching, listening, delivering/accepting feedback and much more.

However, the problem I and a lot of others have with the term Soft Skills (compared to "Hard" skills, such as writing code or knowing a certain job-specific tool or technique) makes the term sound secondary or less important. This connotation couldn't be further than the truth.

So, I believe that we should rename Soft Skills and Hard Skills to Core Skills and Tech Skills (for the IT field, other fields may go with other terms than "Tech"). To be clear, this isn't something I've invented, I've heard it around* and wanted to reiterate the point.

Core is, well, just that...core! Its the solid inner part of you. The bit in which you build. The bit that has to be solid, really before anything else is to be done. The bit you work on, keep strong. The bit that can lose strength, get sore and that needs TLC from time to time. The bit that others naturally have stronger than others. Gosh I like this term.

So that's it. Core Skills. Its not that I hate the term soft skills, its just the name isn't really the point – I want you to work on these skills regardless of how you want to name them. They're just so important. But let's work on naming them with a sense of importance in the hopes that others agree – this is something we'll all benefit from.

Some quick links for Dev.To folks/anyone:

Best of luck!


*I can't remember where I first heard this, but I've now heard this multiple times. In an effort to find out more, I've asked the two people I heard this from most recently, and they had the same experience. A reader pointed out it might have been this thread by Aurynn Shaw, who does a lot of great speaking and blogging around Core Skills. Its spread since then, so great job her! Credit is hard 😅.

Top comments (9)

allanmacgregor profile image
Allan MacGregor 🇨🇦

Hey Sam!

Great write up, I'm definitively in agreement about the importance of "soft" skills, however I'm not sure core is the right terminology.

If we go by the straight definition of core, then core is the central or most important part of something. Building from that definition are verbal communication, written communication, influencing skills, empathy, personal skills, pitching, listening, delivering/accepting feedback, etc. really the most important part ?

Rather they are equally important as technical skills, human skills or people skills sound like a better fit in my opinion as they are the other side of the coin; as developers we have to good ad dealing with both people and machines.


ramblingenzyme profile image
Satvik Sharma

I would argue that those skills are indeed the most important part and are really implied base requirements for any job, as without them, it's difficult, if not impossible, to effectively work in a team.

And the mindset which doesn't assume that one has to be able to work in a team to be a good developer is why we have "rock star developers".

samjarman profile image
Sam Jarman 👨🏼‍💻

I would have agreed with Allen a few years ago, but lately I'm really thinking that they're even more important than, say, 50% of your skills and efforts. So, I'd say core. Like 70%+ :)

adarshkkumar profile image

Thanks Sam for the post. I have read the book mentioned above and few others as well to name a few:

Greatness Guide 1 & 2 - Robin Sharma
Who will cry when you die - Robin Sharma

Though these books say a lot of stuff, I feel just reading is not effective. After some days I forget what I read. It takes lot of effort to act upon what is written.

Another book I want to mention is :

Soft Skills (Software Developer Life Manual) - John Sonmez

I didn't have patience to complete the whole book, I feel its too verbose and too much info. But I feel different people might like different part of that book.

Certain part of the book helped me a lot especially to overcome my Imposter Syndrome :D or to set goals to blog once a week (which I'm not following very well). Overall it might look obvious but will help you.

samjarman profile image
Sam Jarman 👨🏼‍💻

Thanks Adarsh! Great recommendations :)

nearlythere profile image

Looks to me like these are "communication skills" - nothing new to technology fields. Why call it "core" - couldn't other skills be core to your job?

These look like communication.

  • verbal communication
  • written communication
  • influencing skills
  • empathy
  • personal skills
  • pitching
  • listening
  • delivering/accepting feedback

Measurements of these skills have been referred to as "emotional intelligence" - but again, we're talking about communication skills.

samjarman profile image
Sam Jarman 👨🏼‍💻

Yup, the skills are nothing to do with having a tech job. Communication is one. Empathy isn't really communication, its a bit different.

The taxonomy isn't the important thing in this post ;)

5n4p_ profile image
Andreas Schnapp

Hmmm for me the term soft skills sounds not secondary. If the term soft would imply to be less important then hard, then software would sound less important then hardware. Which is not the case IMO.

But of course I'm agree with you that soft skills are not something optional or just nice to have thing.

samjarman profile image
Sam Jarman 👨🏼‍💻

Each to their own interpretation eh! :)

Timeless DEV post...

Git Concepts I Wish I Knew Years Ago

The most used technology by developers is not Javascript.

It's not Python or HTML.

It hardly even gets mentioned in interviews or listed as a pre-requisite for jobs.

I'm talking about Git and version control of course.

One does not simply learn git