Do you remember when you were in kindergarten, and the teacher taught you how important it was to use our inside voice, to share with others, to wash your hands, and to be a good line leader? These were “soft skills” that you still use in every aspect of your life.
Okay, so maybe we don’t have to share our crayons, and we don’t get to be king or queen for the day. We do, however, get to be leaders, and we have to be kind, share our ideas, and work well with others.
According to an article written by Karen Watts, of Karen Southall Watts Consulting, “Employers are desperate for job candidates and employees with communication, interpersonal, and self-management skills.” She goes on to say that there is a “skills gap” in the current population.
I see this all the time the potential students that I meet. They do not want to look you in the eye – they want to do meetings over the internet, through email, or Facebook chats. Very few of them feel comfortable enough to meet in person or even over the phone.
In our “social media” craze, we seem to be getting incredibly less “social!” We can hide behind our computers and not have to deal with the actions of what we put out there for the entire world to see.
Hard skills are teachable abilities or skill sets that are easy to quantify. We all have a certain set of hard skills, and we have the educational diploma to prove it.
Examples of hard skills include:
- Proficiency in a foreign language
- A degree or certificate
- Typing speed
- Machine operation
- Computer programming
Soft skills are subjective and are much harder to quantify. There are no diplomas or awards given to prove our soft skills.
Soft skills include:
If you have the hard skills to apply for the new career or interview for the new promotion, be sure that you study up on your soft skills, as well. Shake the hand of the person you are meeting and look them in the eye. Speak with confidence, smile at them. Be personable! Allow them to get to know you, the human side of you. Not just the list of facts that can be put on paper to make you look good.
So I ask again, got (soft) skills? If your answer is “no,” you might want to head back to a kindergarten class and listen this time when the teacher says to be polite, share your things, and stand up straight! These lessons were important then, and they are incredibly important now!