Soft skills are non-technical skills that relate to how you work. They include how you interact with colleagues, how you solve problems, and how you manage your work (Alison Doyle; 2020). Some employers focus more on the qualifications of employees while others focus on soft skills in hiring staff.
Employers in the first instance pick academic skills or qualifications over soft skills because to them, candidates’ scores determine their understanding of the field of work. However, those in the second group, readily go for soft skills because these are transferable skills that can be used in any jurisdiction required making people with soft skills very adaptable people.
When Esi applied for a role as an Administrator in a reputable company,she knew she was going to get the role. Esi had a good first degree and an MBA in Administration. Prior to this, she had worked as an Administrator for 5 years; the job wanted two years’ experience.
She was shocked to the bone when she realized that the other lady was chosen over her. The lady was her course mate but she had a better class, the girl was now gathering money to do an MBA and had only worked as a teacher. “Was this reputable company focused at all?” “Did her colleague lie about her qualifications in the C.V?”
When Esi discussed the issue with her husband, he asked her to visit the office and ask for clarification; he believed there must have been a mix- up. As soon as she sat down, the Head of H.R went straight to the point. He told her that her CV and her interview scores did not show evidence of soft skills. Although she had work experience, she did not convince the panel that she had problem solving skills, communication skills, social media knowledge, creativity, critical thinking, time management, teamwork, conflict resolution and others.
The H.R also added that hard skills are learnt while soft skills are comparable to the emotions that one receives from others that makes them comfortable to relate to . For example, in sales, communication and creativity are key to closing a business. On the part of an employer, skills like communication, team work, conflict resolution are a must- have.
Esi left the office feeling disappointed but she got the import of what the H.R manager had said. Her mate had these traits and more. Even on the day of the interview, because she was confident in herself, she had arrived 5 mins to the given time.
Generally, soft skills are more difficult to learn, especially when they were not imbibed from an early stage. They are also not the focus in the traditional classroom although some teachers make it a point to imbibe them in their students.
Previously, people were employed and given the chance to learn some soft skills on the job because very few people had the needed qualification to go with it. These days, it’s the other way round. Lots of people are qualified academically with only a few people having the needed soft skills. Again, with so much competition in the area of business, one needs soft skills to succeed.
One major soft skill that businesses require now are critical thinking and creativity. What apps do you use to make work easier? What ideas do you have? Can you implement those ideas when given the chance? Have you formed any relationships with clients that will cause them to stick with your company? Do you communicate efficiently with your employers?Would your job be on the line if someone with better educational qualifications tried to take your role? Would your employee find it difficult to exit because of your employee-employer relationship?
Having said the above, soft skills are really not soft after all and must not be taken for granted.
Are you a School Admin? How creative are you? You could research into modern ways of teaching and implement them. Educational sites like this have useful information on the subject and also introduce your students to learning sites to compliment the traditional mode of study. Are you a School Owner? How forward –thinking are you and how effective are your problem solving skills? There are School Management systems being utilized for efficiency. Did you have a Business Continuity Plan for a time of crisis prior to COVID-19? Do you have one now?Engage an educational consultant for a solutions.
If your answer to these questions are negative, don’t despair. Do some introspection to see your weak points and attempt to fix it. If you are like Esi, who missed a dream job, polish up your soft skills and try again. If you are an employer, look out for soft skills but beware of false negatives and false positives.Do note too that the 21st century skills are different from that of other centuries so do not think you have it all sorted. You may realize you need to do some learning and unlearning even if you believe you have the needed employee/employer skills.