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Soft skills in NGOs: they help you to make a difference


While hard skills are easily measurable abilities, such as writing, reading, math or ability to use computer programs, soft skills relate to how you work.

Soft skills include interpersonal (people) skills, communication skills, listening skills, time management, and empathy, among others. Hiring managers typically look for job candidates with a high level of soft skills because they make someone more successful in the workplace. Someone can be excellent with technical, job-specific skills, but if they can't work within a team or manage their time, they may not be successful in the workplace.


What is the soft skills role in getting a job focusing on the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) sector? NGOs are characterized by multi-stakeholder work environments, with staff consisting of people who have different certifications skills, origins and nationalities.

A 2017 study* from the Universities of Palermo (I) and Pardubice (CZ) shows that soft skills are very important to get involved in the NGOs. The study also shows that having a university degree is often required in NGO jobs, however most positions are not limited to one specialization and require a multi-facetious skills.

NGOs operate like any other organizations; they have staff working in accounting, project delivery, management, fundraising, etc. and share a common objective in initiating and operating social development and service activities. The study examines the importance of soft skills needed and required for the NGO jobs. In order to achieve the purposes of the study, the researchers collected the data from various sources. A questionnaire was sent by email to 35 European NGOs, asking their employees to rate the level of importance of each of the mentioned soft skills depending on their daily work activities.

Here is the ranking of the top 10 most requested soft skills in NGOs positions.

1. Ability to work in a team

2. Ability to communicate with people at all levels

3. Ability to manage time and prioritize tasks

4. Ability to meet deadlines and complete tasks

5. Ability of multitasking

6. Networking with stakeholders and organizations

7. Ability to work under pressure

8. The ability to actively listening to others

9. Ability to speak at least one additional language. Managers and project coordinators normally need to have good English skills

10. Ability to plan strategically and creatively to meet specified objectives


At NGO Management Association (NMA) we provide a results-based course program and consultancy for NGOs and their employees to help them achieve their potential. We follow action-learning principles using case studies, games and role play, addressing real-life problems in a participatory and interactive learning environment to find solutions for issues you are facing in your daily work.

Whether your NGO requires a new communication strategy, a review of your governance or support in complex projects, NMA's proven Triple C approach (Consultancy, Coaching and Courses), tailor-made to your specific needs, translates your urgent matters into effective results.

Do you have specific requirements to improve or develop your soft skills? Do you need personalized coaching ? Try our individual courses tailored to your needs.

Soft skills are a hot topic and we will be proposing new courses and opportunities in the near future. Stay tuned and keep an eye open for our next courses.


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