Careful listening, collaboration, asking good questions—these “soft skills” aren’t always taught in school.
Today’s college graduates need every skill-related edge they can get when it comes to applying for and landing a full-time job.
Numerous surveys and reports indicate that recent U.S. college graduates face a wildly competitive job market along with astronomical student loan debt. More than 40% of recent graduates are underemployed and 16% are working part-time jobs, according to Accenture’s 2013 College Graduate Employment Survey.
One employer survey, conducted by staffing company Adecco, indicates that 44% of responding companies cited “soft skills, such as communication, critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration” as the area with “the biggest gap.”
Additionally, a Talent Shortage Survey from ManpowerGroup discovered that nearly one in five employers worldwide is unable to fill positions because they can’t find people with soft skills.
So what are these soft skills—and other critical workplace skills—that are necessary to join today’s collaborative, fast-moving, real-time workforce? Here are five:
When you look back at your career, do you see a distinct plan unfolding or a bunch of random connections, chance encounters, and detours?
After working for 25 years, and through trial and error, I finally realized something powerful. I understood and acknowledged that it wasn’t a random set of acts or events that produced the success and joy I have felt in my career.
What I learned in going through challenges, in encountering roadblocks and obstacles, is that I have to be true to myself. These six promises are commitments that I’ve made to myself and mindfully put into practice in every situation that I’ve been in. My advice, from someone who has been there, is to make these six promises and keep them:
Good intentions can only get you so far: You need a plan for your career.
Whatever you want to achieve in life, having a career strategy is fundamental to achieving it. Making things up as you go along can take you in the right direction, but a good plan will get you there faster and more effectively.
So what are the steps you can take to ensure that your career strategy develops you to your best potential? What can you learn from the experts and those who have already built the career that they want?
I’m not talking about the kind of claustrophobia that keeps people out of crowded elevators. I’m referring to “career claustrophobia,” a stagnation that stifles even the most promising careers. Surprisingly, this dysfunction is so pervasive today that scarcely anyone notices it.”
“Just like a speaking coach will tell you not to fill empty space with “um,” you should avoid framing your answer as a rehearsed pitch by starting with “so.” Next time you’re asked, “What do you do?” try dropping the “so.” You’ll appear much more confident.”
“Very successful entrepreneurs take the time to analyze their lives and to look closely at their vision and their purpose in life. They put their lives on paper. They take the time to construct mental images that guide them on their journey. While most people are winging it, they put their life mission and business vision and goals on paper. Then they go to work executing their plan.”