“Soft Skills” Are Crucial for Success in Business and STEM Jobs by Jennifer Janechek

Not too long ago, The Washington Post published a report on the findings of a study Google conducted in 2013 on the most valuable traits in its top employees. Called Project Oxygen, this study examined all of Google’s hiring, firing, and promotion data since 1998. The result? Not what you might expect—and not what Google, founded on the idea that “only technologists can understand technology,” expected either: in terms of the eight most important qualities that determined the success of its employees, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) expertise was not first, second, or even third in importance—it was dead last. The top seven determinants of success were all what are traditionally called “soft skills”—communication and other people skills that require social and emotional intelligence.