What are soft skills and why should you care?

In the next year or two, you’re set to hear plenty from your careers advisers and career visitors to school about skills and the fact you will need these for work and success in the future.

So, what are these skills? What do they mean when they call these “soft” skills.

There are skills you are taught or that you learn directly, and there are skills you develop as part of your personality.

The first lot are called ‘hard’ skills, and they may be a diploma or a degree in a specific area like engineering, accounting, carpentry etc, or they may be skills relating to a specific job or task.

What are ‘soft skills’?

Soft skills is a phrase describing the skills we use in our dealings with other people, and in the way we approach life and work.

They’re about us, not a course.

Other phrases which mean the same things are: ‘people skills’, ‘social skills’, ‘interpersonal skills’, and more frequently today, ‘transferable skills’.

Here’s some good information

  • You can learn and develop soft skills as well as hard skills. It might be a little bit harder to get hold of some of them, they may take more learning than you think, and you don’t have exams to check how you’re going.
  • While hard skills might be important in some industries, soft skills are important in all of them. They help you to get along with others, to learn quickly, and to understand what you need to do to succeed in the job or task.

What ‘soft skills’ do employers want?

  1. Communication Skills

    • Listening: the most useful skill in almost every organisation. It’s not just hearing what someone’s saying, but stopping and thinking about what they say before replying.
    • Writing: All industries need people who can write reports, blogs, sales materials articles and much more. Don’t confuse this with creative writing as business writing is much more to the point. You can develop this.
    • Face-to-face: Looking people in the eye; answering questions or requests properly and politely; how you meet/greet others. These all count, and you can fix them all.
  1. Personal skills:

    • Get on with others, aim to make their work day a pleasant one, just like you want.
    • Be honest, be fair, share credit and accept responsibility for your actions and words. You are on your way to becoming an adult so it’s time.
  1. Interpersonal skills:

    • How you communicate or interact with others will make a huge difference to your employability. Some people just can’t work with anyone else. Don’t be one of these.
    • Here’s some examples of interpersonal skills: Compassion, Co-operation, Enthusiasm, Empathy, Flexibility, Integrity, Loyalty, Motivation, Optimism, Persistence, Resourcefulness, Responsibility, Teamwork.
  1. Organisational Skills

  • Time management: showing up early, managing your time to get the job done = major skill.
  • Other vital organisational skills include setting goals, attention to detail and how you can plan things (eg, project, travel etc)
  1. Creative thinking and problem solving

  • Can you generate innovative fresh ideas at school, in your team or maybe in volunteer roles you may have?
  • Are you able to look at something and work it out from a couple of points of view? (clue – most of us can’t/don’t)
  • All businesses have problems – can you help solve these?

Transferable Skills - take them with you

Soft skills are called transferable skills because when you change jobs or roles in the future, you take (or transfer) your personality-based skills, your soft skills, along with you.

They’re yours for life, so make them good ones you can live easily with.

SchoolLeaver- Feb, 2019