Soft Skills are the New Technical Skills

You have heard the importance of hard skills, including your GPA to SAT scores, but have you heard about the importance of soft skills? What if we told you that a new study from Boston College, Harvard University, and the University of Michigan found that training soft skills can increase productivity and retention by 12%? Unfortunately, soft skills are oftentimes overlooked, and this is a big disadvantage for students.

So What Are Soft Skills?

Soft skills are subjective and help to define your “people” skills. They are more important than ever in today’s competitive workforce as it is no longer enough for you to only have strong technical skills. But it can be a struggle for others to recognize and appreciate your soft skills if you do not even recognize your own. Recognizing soft skills is a tough task as everyone has their unique combination of personal skills. To understand how to hone in on your soft skills, it is key to identify some top sought after soft skills by the workforce.

3 Key Soft Skills For Students

Self and Time Management

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When students go to college, they are often faced with the challenge of managing their own time. Pull an all-nighter the day of an exam? Sure, that is why I have coffee. Eat dining hall pizza for dinner for the fifth night in a row? Yum. Skip class to stay in your warm, comfy bed? Great!

A study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as shown to the right, illustrates how the typical full-time college student spends his/her time. The main takeaway is that a student’s time is spent in a variety of activities so it is important to know how to leverage your responsibilities, The good news is that given the right mindset, the ability to effectively manage your time and self-responsibility can be improved upon. Wouldn’t you rather eat dining hall pizza for dinner for the fifth night of a row without stress about upcoming deadlines and responsibilities?

Recommendations for Improvement

  • Talk to an academic advisor to help plan your academic schedule.
  • Use a digital calendar or paper planner to visualize upcoming events and deadlines.
  • Be honest with yourself… is waiting until the night before an essay is due really a smart decision?

Teamwork

Some students find teamwork natural, while others gravitate towards solo work. There is nothing wrong with the latter, but the reality is that collaboration penetrates all areas of life from working on group projects to playing on a sports team. Being able to work effectively on a team means being open-minded to interacting with others of different backgrounds and experiences. This open-minded, team player approach demonstrates leadership and creativity- attributes valuable to employers.

In fact, Salesforce reported that 86% of employees and executives blame workplace failures on lack of communication and collaboration. This is not a bad soft skill to possess if you ask me!

Recommendations for Improvement

  • Join campus organizations.
  • Play on sports teams.
  • Volunteer in your local community.

Grit

In the face of obstacles, it is those with great drive that will be motivated to continue pushing to reach the goal. Although uncomfortable at times, failure is a state that comes with some of life’s best lessons. But you can only reap the full value of the lessons if you bounce back from a setback and persevere.

According to Angela Duckworth, author of “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance,” what makes people successful is not solely technical knowledge such as SAT scores and IQ scores. Instead, it is the ability to consistently be persistent and resilient, even when faced with setbacks. To unlock your inner grit, you must find passion and purpose for attaining your goals.

Recommendations for Improvement

  • Understand that failure is temporary and does not limit future success.
  • Attack and practice your targeted weak spots until your weakness becomes a strength.
  • Seek feedback so that you can continue to improve and grow.

These three soft skills only demonstrate a small sample of soft skills you may possess. However, the good news is that, just like hard skills, soft skills can be enhanced and developed throughout your life. The first step is being open to practicing your soft skills. So keep notice of areas where you can improve your interpersonal skills so that your personal qualities and characteristics can be of its best!

Sign up for Spect to help document the soft skills you use in your everyday life and to find ways to improve!