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:
You can unplug the Internet and pull the shades—or you can phone a friend.
You’re reaching the frayed ends of over-caffeinated overtime and if your inbox pings one more time, you might throw your laptop at a wall. If you had the time to read a whole self-help book on being overwhelmed, well, you wouldn’t need it, would you?
Using a psychology model of coping mechanisms called selection, optimization, and compensation, the researchers tested each method with a sample of 294 employees and their supervisors. Only one of these strategies actually worked. But first, a review of their definitions:
Do your Internet habits hold you back, or help you succeed?
In theory, technology should increase both work flexibility and productivity, but it is also responsible for procrastination and a major threat to people’s work-life balance.
In fact, much of the recent debate about work-life imbalance is concerned with our relationship with technology, in particular our inability to disconnect or go offline.
For example, in the U.S. almost 50% of working adults report being “hooked” on email, which is estimated to cost the nation’s economy at least $900 billion a year in productivity loss. According to consulting firm McKinsey & Company, professionals spend 28% of their work time reading or answering emails. These statistics explain the international success of bestselling books like The Four Hour Work Week.
Furthermore, even people who manage to keep their email addiction in check are prone to getting hooked on other sites or apps, such as Facebook or Twitter, with a growing number of people trying social media sabbatical, where they detox from these sites for a couple of months or so. Needless to say, our digital excesses may harm not just our productivity but also our personal relationships with others, especially if they demand exclusive attention from the physical world.
So how can we better manage our web-life balance? Here are four practical suggestions you may want to consider:
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:
You’re probably not getting enough sleep, but you might not be as far off the mark as you think.
Most sleep experts would offer that aiming for between seven to nine hours of snooze time a night is optimal for feeling refreshed and productive the next day. In a new report researchers are closing in on what may just be that magic nightly number—and it’s not nine hours, or even eight as once believed.
Could checking Facebook and getting a lunchtime cocktail be what you need to get focused?
We’ve all been there. That time in the afternoon when you just can’t seem to focus, not because of a lack of stuff to do, but because your mind keeps wandering to things you could do to procrastinate. Maybe you take some time to check Facebook and Instagram on your phone, or browse the Internet to catch up on what’s been happening around the world.
It’s no secret that these things probably won’t help you with your productivity. But what if we told you that there were some sites that would help energize you, or that taking a social media break was good for keeping you motivated during the day? Here are four ways to help boost your productivity at work.
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.”
“The symmetry of clocks lulls us into believing that time is a fixed commodity, but studies indicate that’s not the way it’s experienced. Time speeds up as we age. And the older you get, the more quickly it appears to vanish.”