It’s no secret that knowledge of the subject is important, but many would agree that the ability to present yourself, communicate in society and network is one of the most important skills, no matter what industry you work in. Also, you would probably agree that these skills should be obtained in childhood, and if it did not work out, then at university. Well, let’s understand more specifically what soft skills are and how they can help graduates in building a career and personal life.
Definition of Soft skills and Hard skills
So, what are Soft skills and how do they differ from Hard skills? Soft skills are competencies that allow you to easily build communication with other people, cope more effectively with various tasks, and learn new things quickly. They are useful in absolutely any sphere and will help their owner to move faster in his career. Hard skills are professional skills that are needed to solve specific problems. The term is used to describe “hard” skills and often refers to narrow competencies that are in demand in a certain field.
What matters more “flexible” or “hard” skills? Researchers from American universities Stanford and Harvard with the support of the Carnegie Endowment conducted research. The results showed that 85% of a person’s professional success is determined by Soft skills. And Hard skills only by 15%.
Soft skills: history and modernity:
The term “soft skills” is fairly new. It appeared only at the end of the 1990s, although research on “flexible” skills began in America in the 1960s. Why is the modern world so interested in soft skills? It is a result of the rapid development of technology. If before we lived in a very clear world where knowledge did not change for decades, and professional qualities of specialists were evaluated by the number of years spent in one workplace, now everything is different. There is nothing permanent anymore, except change. People have to learn all the time, explore new areas, and sometimes master unfamiliar professional fields. “Hard” skills don’t help with these challenges. We need to change. Technology is changing the world, and researchers are writing dissertations and publishing scientific articles that prove the importance of soft skills for modern people and the need to develop them at the university.
What flexible skills do students need and how to develop them
For a successful career and a confident future, it is important to be engaged not only in the formation of professional knowledge, but also to develop soft skills. But to master all soft skills at once is a thankless task: students don’t have enough time, motivation, or energy. By the way, you also need to sleep. Needless to say, many students do not even have time to do their homework and have to turn to the paper help.
That is why we have collected 10 Soft skills, which are useful for students during their studies and job search:
- Effective communication;
- Business correspondence;
- Lifelong Learning
- Emotional intelligence;
- Decision-making skills;
- Critical thinking;
- Creative thinking;
- Self-presentation and public speaking;
- Time management.
Communication skills can be practiced throughout life. They are important in face-to-face as well as online conversations. With this skill, students can: clearly explain their point of view, convincingly argue, manage even hopeless situations, make new contacts quickly, become the soul of the company, and easily pass job interviews.
There are different ways to improve the effectiveness of communication skills:
- trying to be active in class;
- act in a theatrical troupe;
- attend public events;
- meet new people, and more.
Business correspondence skills are especially important now as communication is increasingly moving to a remote format. It allows students to: express their thoughts clearly in writing, understand the nuances of business etiquette, clearly formulate theses and arguments not only in emails but also in student papers.
What are the tools for you to develop your business correspondence skills on your own at university:
- read business literature;
- study business etiquette;
- use the acquired skills in correspondence.
Lifelong learning is one of the most important education trends of the future. Learning is a never-ending process that lasts a lifetime. And the sooner you understand this, the easier it will be to develop the right skills and keep yourself interested in learning.
How to help yourself develop the skill of continuous learning:
- be mindful of work/rest balance;
- find your way to remember more: outlining, mnemotechnics, interval repetition, and so on;
- choose a comfortable learning style.
Life is 10% about what happens to me and 90% about how I react to it. Writer Charles Swindoll said that Emotional Intelligence is our ability to understand, control, and express emotions. By developing this kind of intelligence, we find common ground with others faster, understand ourselves better, and bring more happiness into our lives.
So how does a student develop this Soft skill?
- be more attentive to yourself and others;
- study the topic of Emotional Intelligence.
Decision Making Skills
The ability to make the right decisions is a superpower that can help at any time in life. If a student masters it, he or she will be able to quickly predict and make important steps in adulthood.
And to pump up your decision-making skills, you can:
- make decisions every day;
- explore this issue by reading psychological literature.
It is a necessary skill to be able to rationalize your life and analyze everything around you.
How to do it:
- doubt everything;
- do fact-checking.
Creativity is the ability to see the ordinary as unconventional and come up with new ideas. It is important to develop this skill not only at university but also in professional life: look for new approaches, bring forth fresh ideas and introduce creativity to any activity.
Some people are amazed by their creativity and out-of-the-box thinking from birth. But even if these skills are not initially present, they can be developed:
- look for multiple solutions in a standard situation;
- play associations and look for parallels;
- master freewriting;
- study creative ideas of famous masters.
Self-Presentation and Public Speaking
Such skills will help: to speak at conferences, to pass even the trickiest interviews, not to get lost among new audiences.
And to improve your public speaking skills, you can do the following:
- Memorize and recite poems with expression;
- Take part in public speaking training, like the one offered by Thought-Leader;
- Join a theatrical troupe.
Time management is a skill that will allow you to successfully study at university, pass exams and acquire the necessary soft skills.
To master time management, try the following:
- plan your day;
- use a variety of techniques;
- keep a diary.