Soft Skills are Keys to Career Success

Friday, March 01, 2019 - Bridget DiPhilippo

To land and keep a job you need a repertoire of skills. Beyond technical skills, what are the key components employers seek in their candidates? Work ethic, attitude, and communication skills, to name a few. Soft skills, also referred to as transferrable or interpersonal skills, are any skills that pertain to the way you approach others and handle your professional life.

As the name suggests, soft skills are skills that are not solid or as clear cut as technical hard skills. Hard skills are job-specific skills and the knowledge you need to perform a job; skills that you gain through education, programs and on the job training that are easily evaluated and definable. Soft skills, however, are more difficult to evaluate and define, as they are not learned in a traditional classroom or corporate setting. These skills are the personal attributes, personality traits, communication abilities and social cues needed for personal and professional success.

Categorically, soft skills can be broken down into three sections: Professionalism, Interpersonal Skills, and Leadership and Management Skills. Professionalism includes traits such as self-motivation, work ethic, resilience, time management, organization, and patience. Interpersonal Skills include teamwork, mentoring, empathy, listening, emotional intelligence, and communication, and the Leadership and Management category includes skills such as problem-solving, research, critical observation, and conflict resolution. 

So why are soft skills important in your career? Because soft skills are a critical component for professional success and are often the most distinguishing factor between job applicants. Almost 78 percent of employers rank soft skills as the most important component while hiring and nearly 85 percent of job success is represented by soft skills. (Harvard University, the Carnegie Foundation, and Stanford Research, 2016) Whether you are a dentist, receptionist, or general contractor, nearly every job requires employees to engage with others in some kind of way. Additionally, possessing soft skills is often seen with having a broad background and uniqueness that can diversify a company and allow it to run more efficiently. Overall, all technical skills are of no use without soft skills. Soft skills allow you to communicate with your co-workers or take feedback. Your critical thinking will assist you in narrowing down decisions, while your team management and leadership skills will ensure everyone is on the same page and remains motivated. Regardless of the job in which you are working, soft skills are the keys to your career success. 

Today, employers are looking for employees who not only complete the assigned tasks but also can come up with alternative ideas. Employers are looking for someone who has the ability to push the boundaries and find ways to remain competitive and productive. Teamwork, leadership, and communication are essential elements in personal and professional success, and all happen to be elements of soft skills. Traditionally, people do not receive adequate soft skills training. That's why programs like Chain Reaction are great for helping people build soft skills.

Many students, even those with great transcripts, leave high school without the knowledge of the importance of soft skills which lead to more success in college and the workplace. For instance, many teenagers may not know how to effectively communicate outside of their social media platforms or lack project and time management skills. Programs such as Chain Reaction, that encourage collaboration and service learning often boost soft skills. Chain Reaction works on soft skill development in teenage students through service projects, leadership training, and hands-on learning. At Chain Reaction, teens work on service projects in teams to develop and strengthen skills of communication, courage, commitment, as well as 21 other valuable soft skills, ultimately making them competitive and ready for college and their career.

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