The Softer Side

a stock image of a fuzzy fabric laptop and a fuzzy cup of coffee

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A recent study by the Association of American Colleges and Universities reported that long-term career success comes from demonstrated proficiency in skills and knowledge that cut across all majors. Yet one of the major complaints by employers is that graduates do not have the soft skills needed to keep the job. Employers also say the skills that are lacking are more important to an individual’s success at their company than his or her undergraduate major.  A Career Builder Survey supports the claim that companies are looking for employees with people-oriented soft skills and are becoming more and more concerned about the “skills gap” in today’s workplace.

The fact is, far too many graduates do not know what soft skills are. Although it’s a common term, very few students have heard of it. I am not saying that colleges don’t teach any soft skills but there seems to be a void (or rather, a disconnect) between academic performance and job performance. While it is important to have knowledge and skills for specific fields, skills in critical thinking, writing and communication, and analytical reasoning are just as, if not more, important. Think about it! The most crucial skills needed for success and most graduates have never heard of them. But how can students develop and practice something that they have not been taught?

Well there is good news and all is not lost. In fact, there is so much opportunity to gain the skills we need and it starts with us. Instead of waiting for someone else to teach us, we can teach ourselves. The best place to start is by reading and engaging in professional learning activities that will result in long-term benefits. Whether you like e-books or paper books, its usefulness cannot be understated and will allow us to internalize and practice what we learn and advance our knowledge and soft skills.

I know that many of you will not have time to read beyond the required reading for school and it can be quite overwhelming with so much to do. Also being “creatures of habit”, we are used to having someone teach us. But, if we start by taking responsibility to change the way we think, our actions will also change. That’s why I am writing this blog. This will be my way of bringing to you just some of what’s available out there to help you stand out from the crowd and give you the competitive advantage.softskillsImage Credit

What are the Most Important Soft Skills?

11 thoughts on “The Softer Side

  1. I agree. Many individuals focus on their studies rather than working with others, thankfully the schools try to force group work. However, I do think reading books will take away from those skills. People need to be more hands on, meet people, force face to face communication if they are shy or haven’t had much people skills. Best thing to do is volunteer or join groups.

  2. Reading is important because it explicitly and sequentially supports the knowledge and application of those skills. But you’re right, hands on experience is the best and only way to develop.

    I like to read testimonials of those who are successful and have constructive advice that I can actually follow.

    Thanks for commenting Amoni and I would love to hear what others have to say.

    For anyone:
    Do you think that school is preparing (or has prepared) you to deal with actual day to day job requirements of the real corporate workforce such as how to plan, organize, prioritize, be emotionally intelligent, make sound judgement calls, and appropriate communication? Feel free to give examples if you like.

  3. As someone who is both in school and working in the corporate world I can say I have learned more of these “soft skills” at work than I have at school. Not to say I haven’t learned some great things in college but they’re task based not people skills. I also do believe people skills are taught and cultivated long before we enter the working world. I think we should start teaching kids these soft skills early on so they can practice them most of their life.

    This was a real eye opener Pam I don’t think anyone realizes how important these skills are.

  4. I agree that soft skills are most efficient. In most of my classes, they teach us that proper people skills can aid in not only getting a job but keeping it. But my major is hospitality management so I’m unsure how this is taught in other majors.

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