6 soft skills every young professional should have

Beyond the technical skills you developed during your studies, soft skills are equally important for professional success. Skills like effective communication, time management, and adaptability are crucial in the ever-changing workplace. What soft skills should you possess, and how can you develop them? Read on to find out 👇.

Marjolein Jansen
Marjolein Jansen

The importance of soft skills at work

❗Teamwork and clear communication are essential in the workplace, and soft skills are becoming increasingly vital. Research from UWV shows that many employers value these skills as much as, if not more than, technical skills.

Soft skills encompass how you communicate, collaborate, and handle changes or setbacks in your work. Mastering these skills makes you not only more adaptable but also significantly more effective in your role.

Resilience, for instance, allows you to overcome challenges and keep moving forward, even when things don’t go as planned. The ability to manage stress helps you stay calm under pressure and think clearly, which is crucial for making good decisions and remaining productive, even in high-stress situations.

6 essential soft skills

1. Communication

Good communication is more than just speaking well or writing clearly; it involves active listening and interpreting non-verbal cues. At work, it’s essential to convey your ideas clearly while being receptive to others’ perspectives. Incorporating different viewpoints into a project often leads to better results. Strong communication also reduces misunderstandings and the chances of mistakes.

 Read about Tjardo, a young professional who faced communication challenges during his actuarial traineeship and how he resolved them.

In the workplace, you will inevitably deal with stakeholder management. Stakeholder management involves identifying, understanding, and effectively engaging all stakeholders who impact a project.

You can develop stakeholder management skills by studying communication and conflict resolution, and by gaining experience in project management. This skill is crucial because it enables you to build strong relationships with everyone who influences your projects.

2. Collaboration

No one can do everything alone at work; nearly every project requires teamwork. Therefore, it is crucial to collaborate well and respectfully, despite differences in work styles, interests, or personalities among colleagues.

This requires empathy and mutual respect, even when there are generational or cultural differences within the company or your team. Everyone views a project differently because everyone has their own area of expertise.


A mix of perspectives only enhances the results. Equally important, it fosters inspiration. Diverse profiles and viewpoints can provide fresh ideas and new ways of thinking. These different types of people can inspire you, helping you grow and develop as an individual. Embracing this diversity not only benefits the project but also contributes to your personal growth and creativity.

Andrea joined a team with many different cultures during her traineeship at ABN AMRO, which brought challenges. Read here how they still became a close-knit team.

3. Time management

Managing your time well reduces stress and increases productivity. Knowing how to prioritize tasks to meet deadlines is crucial for success in your work. Many companies use agile methodologies like Scrum or Kanban to support this process.

In a Scrum approach, you work in short sprints and hold daily stand-up meetings to discuss progress, which helps prioritize and complete tasks efficiently. Kanban uses a visual board to manage workflow, allowing you to see at a glance what needs to be done and who is working on what.


As a young professional, you can also use these tools to make your own tasks and projects clearer and more manageable. For instance, you can create a personal Kanban board using tools like Trello or Asana, where you can organize your tasks and track your progress.

4. Problem-solving skills

You will always encounter problems at work. It benefits both you and your colleagues if you can remain calm and approach these issues creatively. This means not only being able to put the problem into perspective but also seeing opportunities to come up with effective solutions. You can discuss these issues with your manager, colleagues, or talent manager. Sometimes, simply talking about the problem is the first step toward finding a solution.


5. Adaptability and flexibility

The workplace is constantly evolving, and your team can change suddenly: people leave, and new faces bring new ways of working. Technology and projects change, and so do the expectations placed on you. In such a dynamic environment, you must be flexible. Being able to quickly adapt to different situations helps you stay up-to-date and productive, no matter what your role is.

6. Leadership skills

Leadership skills are important even if you are not in an official managerial position. They help you take the initiative, assume responsibility, and inspire others. Good communication, empathy, and decisiveness are essential qualities of a leader. Integrity is also crucial as it builds trust and respect within your team. Additionally, being adept at problem-solving and willing to admit your mistakes fosters a stronger, more supportive work environment. These skills make you a natural leader, no matter where you work.

How to develop your soft skills

You develop soft skills through experience, but you can accelerate this process by actively working on and reflecting on your skills. It’s wise to tackle your soft skills one by one. Choose a skill you genuinely want to improve and discuss this with your manager or talent manager.

Next, find someone who truly excels in this skill—this could be a colleague at work. Have a conversation with them: How did you develop this skill? What challenges did you face in the beginning? What do you think I can do better? Then, decide which feedback you want to act on.

Set specific goals for yourself, whether weekly or monthly, and ask your colleagues for honest feedback. This feedback helps you understand your progress and identify areas for improvement. By tackling your development step by step, you keep it manageable. Don’t be afraid to ask others for tips or assistance; after all, you’re just starting your career and have a lot to learn.

Start your career well-prepared

Ready for a job in the financial sector? Check out our vacancies in finance, risk, data, or IT. Recruiter Jorn will gladly help you maximise your development.

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