Employers these days are looking for people who have more than just a certificate, diploma or degree. Ideally, their next hire will be someone who also has the right “soft skills” to get the job done well. What are soft skills? While hard skills include specific abilities such as proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite or speaking a second language, soft skills are less tangible. Soft skills can include how you communicate with your teammates, how you conduct yourself in a meeting, or how adaptable and open-minded you are. These are qualities that are developed over time and with experience, but they do begin in the classroom. Any time you are working on a group project, brainstorming with your class, or giving a presentation, you are working on your soft skill development. Here are our top 5 soft skills to develop while in school:
As much as you might wish that you could, you generally do not get to choose your co-workers. Therefore, learning to cooperate and work well with others are essential skills for working in most environments. While in college, group projects are a great way to develop a mutual respect and openness to the ideas of others. Use your time in college to figure out when to listen and when to lead in group situations, and you will become a pro at working on a team.
Challenges are inevitable, no matter what your field of work. Companies need employees who are ready and willing to stay positive and come up with solutions as issues arise. College life is can often present one challenge after another, so it’s a great time for developing these problem-solving skills that will prove useful in the workplace.
Creativity goes hand-in-hand with problem solving. The best solution isn’t always the most obvious one! Believe that your ideas are valuable and don’t be afraid to share your unique perspective. Sharing creative ideas is how companies drive innovation and get ahead of the game.
Communication is and will always be one of the most important soft skills you can have. Your written and verbal skills will affect many aspects of your employment within a company, including how you are perceived and how well you work with others. Anyone with great communication skills knows that part of effective communication includes listening. Truly listening to someone else will win you their trust and help you develop a real connection.
People change, industries change, trends change. You never know when you may need to adapt to a new situation. Be open-minded and flexible in your approach, so that when you do need to adapt, you are prepared.