HR Focus: Soft Skills 1

Every graduate has a degree but what distinguishes one graduate from the other are “soft skills”. There are thousand and one graduates out there with a degree in marketing ,engineering, accounting etc. but what gives you a competitive edge is your soft skills.

Employers are on a look for additional skills other than your technical know how.

What are Soft Skills?

Soft skills are intangible skills that can not be quantified. Example of soft skills are communication(verbal and written),team work,adaptability,conflict resolution, critical reasoning and leadership.

Research from the Society for Human Resource Management found that “ employers actually care more about soft skills than they do technical abilities like mathematics and economics”.

Sadly enough, soft skills are not taught in classrooms. A student or a prospective employee needs to learn and develop such skills on their own.

Why are Soft Skills Important?

Soft skills are revered because of it's role in human connection. Companies do not operate in vacuums, there are other people in the company who work together towards the achievement of a common goal.

“Soft skills are key in building relationships ,gaining visibility and creating more opportunities for career advancement” Kathy Robinson (Founder of Boston Career Coaching, Firm Turning Point).

I have personally seen colleagues and managers alike struggle to build relationships and advance their career because they lack these soft skills.

Others with soft skills gain visibility and quickly rise through the ranks.

My current manager is an example of an individual with various soft skills.

Soft Skills for your Career

1. Communication Skills (Written and Verbal)

a. Why you Need it: The ability to communicate effectively with senior colleagues and staff is essential. In this digital age, it is very important to know how to effectively convey and receive messages in person, via phone,e-mails,social media.
Communication skills improves your human connection with co-workers and boost your performance.

b. Why Employers look for it: Workers are more productive when they know how to communicate with their peers says Robinson.
If an employee can clearly make a case for their innovations, expressing who,what,when,where,why and how of a project, then that employee will be preferred over others who cannot.

c. How to Gain it: One way to hone your communication skills as a student is to join debating clubs, creative writing clubs, other youth groups that give you the opportunity to engage more with your peers.

2. Team Work

a. Why you Need it: A company's success is dependent on many people working together to achieve a common goal. A good team player is an asset to any unit or department in a company.

b. Why Employers look for it: Employers look for a good team player to build a positive and a friendly work environment to foster unity and growth. A good team player supports their colleagues, covering up for a sick colleague.

A positive environment yields better performance.

c. How to Gain it: Join study groups on campus, work on your group assignments together.

Project work groups are also essential to developing great team spirit.

3. Adaptability

a. Why you Need it: The working environment is not that of a stiff and rigid environment. There is a need to adapt to situations and be flexible to meet the needs of internal and external customers alike. Robinson says “successful leaders are the one who know how to be flexible when problems arise”.

b. Why Employees need it :There is a rapid growth in every industry and employers need employees that can easily and quickly to adapt to changes. We are in a digital world hence adaptability is a key skill for any employee.

c. How to Gain it: Push yourself to be an early adopter of change. Enquire about new things on campus and on the internet and learn to adapt to new phenomenon.

This is the first part of the series on Soft Skills for your career. I will bring you the concluding part next week.

This is HR Focus, Read on, Prepare for the Job Market.

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Ivy Edinam

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