I was fortunate the other day to speak to Harrisonburg City & Rockingham County high school students as a part of Blue Ridge Community College's “Get a Job Bootcamp.” I spoke on the importance of "soft skills" and how they can impact your ability to not just find a job but retain a job and build a successful career. (Click here to read the DNR article about the event)
Soft skills are the most essential factor regarding success in your career. They are defined as 21 specific skills in three main focus areas: Personal Qualities and People Skills, Professional Knowledge and Skills and Technology Knowledge and Skills. They are a measure of your EQ (Emotional Intelligence Quotient) unlike the IQ (Intelligence Quotient). If you have strong soft skills, you are able to navigate through the “rough waters” of the workplace and find success.
Often soft skills are underrated in the career development process because it is a misnomer that they are easily acquired or “part of a person’s personality”. After working with adult clients that struggle to “connect” in the workplace and therefore do not have overall job satisfaction these skills are in no way easy to acquire. They take years of practice in many areas of your life including the sports field, the grocery store, the dinner table, and the school lunchroom. It is in our ability to interact effectively and cordially with other people that we create strong soft skills.
Although technology allows us to be much for efficient in our world it provides a physical barrier between our relationship with others. When was the last time you were talking to someone and they were looking at their smart phone while trying to carry on a conversation? Makes you feel pretty unimportant! Having soft skills allows you to know when to utilize the essential “resource” of technology but also knowing when to put it down to connect to others. No matter how we grew up, our personality type, or our IQ soft skills can be learned through practice. IF you feel that your soft skills are holding you back find a mentor, a close friend, a counselor, or a career coach to help you evaluate and strengthen the most important skill you will ever learn.