QUESTION: “What do they mean by soft skills?”

I love this question today! ANSWER: Although unique core competencies are still sought after, employers are still searching for what has been termed “soft skills.” The truth is: hiring managers have always been searching for candidates who exhibit these skills. Three years ago I was introduced to a list of soft skills local employers in the Cedar Valley viewed as important and lacking amongst potential candidates. Partnerships were formed with educators to reestablish the importance of employability and soft skills for those entering the job market.
Soft skills are a combination of personal qualities, habits, attitude and social style that makes you compatible to work with and in others’ perception, “a good employee.” Most common soft skills include: a good work ethic, working collaboratively, communication skills (verbal /non-verbal to include the ability to listen), time management, flexibility and self-confidence. The most important one I have been hearing, aside from listening, is the ability to ACCEPT criticism and LEARN from it. Employees and leaders should be coachable.
Over the past year the term “soft skills” is growing in popularity amongst executives and hiring managers. Sitting in meetings, attending conferences and having conversations the term seems to be springing up everywhere.
A shift is happening in the job market. Some employers believe if candidates have these skills; they can teach them what they need to know to do the job. It is about being able to creatively solve problems, be agile, adaptable and accepting of change.
“How do you educate your students’ awareness related to employability skills and soft skills?” the HR assistant, at world-renowned manufacturing businesses, asked me. I am able to answer this question confidently. We address these issues by having discussions, self-reflection, and identification activities with our students. Looking into the future, I hope to use the National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) as part of our well rounded model.