Question: Why Are Soft Skills So Important in the Workplace?

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Sep 22, 2017
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Career, Employment, Current Events, Question of the Day

Tim: In the course of two days, I had three educators approach me to ask whether we had any activities or ideas to help their students develop the "soft skills" to thrive in today's workplace. So, we did what we always do and developed a game plan to create one. In the meantime, Danielle took the initiative (a "soft skill") to write a blog post with useful resources for educators

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Danielle's post:

More and more, employers are seeking to hire those who have “soft skills” because they’re a necessary set of characteristics that make people more approachable, personable, and effective in the workplace. “Soft skills” are defined as the interpersonal capabilities that successful employees exemplify in their respective professional settings. To put it simply: it’s the way they should appropriately act, dress, and speak in the workplace. There are only so many tutorials and videos you can read and watch that will teach you how to develop this necessary skill set in order to perform well at your job, but how do you actually develop them?

This Howcast video is reminiscent of an infomercial for an "As Seen on TV" advertisement, but it does a great job of demonstrating the do’s and dont’s of your first day of work, and highlights the importance of soft skills. Here’s a news clip of a recruitment company representative covering the gamut of soft skills and explaining why they’re necessary in the workforce. Additionally, here’s a video of employers talking about why they look for soft skills in the people they hire.

Characteristics such as having a good work ethic, engaging with others in a positive manner, and effectively managing your time have always been reliable qualities that employers look for in people they hire. Employers never cease to be impressed by those who know how to interact with others, especially considering how we’re living in an age where person-to-person interactions are ever decreasing.

A good acronym to always keep in mind in the workplace:

Dress appropriately

Act like your mother-in-law is always there (a.k.a. Always be on your best behavior)

Remember everyone’s name

Exude confidence

I remember the first day of my first job as if it was yesterday. I worked as an Advocate for World Vision at a kiosk in the mall the summer prior to my senior year of high school. I learned how to have a commanding presence, techniques on engaging in conversation with others, and professional mannerisms such as shaking hands and keeping eye contact. I further developed these skills when I was on my high school’s Academic Decathlon team, and even more so when I was in my university’s Mock Trial club. Nowadays, I’m always looking to refine my soft skills in preparation for my career. My two cents: engage in conversation with everyone you meet, and dress as if you’re going to meet a high profile public figure at any moment. You’d want to look presentable, right?

Questions:

  • Why do you think “soft skills” are just as important as “hard skills” (the skills necessary to do the actual job)?
  • What are some ways you can start practicing soft skills even before you start working?
  • Do you have any advice for your fellow classmates on what to do their first day of work?
  • If you’ve had a job before, would you have considered yourself prepared for the type of professional mannerisms that were expected of you?
    • If you could go back and relive your first day on the job, what would you have done differently?
  • What kind of soft skills do you possess right now? Which ones do you wish you could develop further?

You inquired, and we were inspired! In the coming weeks, we’ll be developing an activity you can use in your classroom on how to hone in on those soft skills.

If you liked this article, be sure to check out one of our older blog posts, which includes a character quiz you can take to see if you have the right soft skills to succeed in the workplace!  

About the Author

Danielle Bautista

Danielle is a native of Southern California and a recent graduate from the University of Maine, where she braved the frigid winters—a feat in and of itself—and earned her Bachelor's degree in International Affairs. She has a passion for working with non-profit organizations and serving populations in underprivileged communities. When Danielle isn't writing NGPF blog posts, spearheading various outreach projects, or managing contests and flash surveys, you can find her doing some sort of outdoor activity, learning a new hobby, or cracking what she thinks are witty puns!