What soft skills do we need to acquire now to better leverage ourselves to enter the workforce?
Part I - Overview and Communication
You think you've got it all - a stellar transcript, a variety of great work and leadership experiences, and references who can praise both your academic successes and strong work ethic. But while you’ve certainly built up a high stress tolerance, is this enough to prepare you for post-grad employment?
Do you possess the soft skills – that is, the personal attributes that allow you to interact effectively and harmoniously with others – necessary to succeed at any job?
A 2018 Bloomberg Next and Workday survey asked over 200 senior-level professionals (100 each in academia and business) to assess the widening “skills gap” - the mismatch that arises between the skills employers desire and the skills college grads are equipped with at the conclusion of their undergraduate education. According to the results of the study, only 35% of corporations believe recently recruited college grads possess both the hard and soft skills necessary to succeed at work. This indicates that most corporations believe the skills new employees possess are not enough for them to thrive in the workplace. In order to close this skills gap, the study suggests that students focus on developing the most important soft skills required to succeed in any work environment: teamwork, analytical reasoning, complex problem-solving, agility and adaptability, and ethical judgment.
After reading this study, we dug a little deeper to find out more about these desired skills. The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) defines career readiness as “the attainment and demonstration of requisite competencies that broadly prepare college graduates for a successful transition into the workplace.” These requisite competencies help address the skills gap by ensuring students possess specific soft skills that make the transition smoother and ultimately successful.
In this, the first of four posts, we will examine each skill in depth, and highlight the Conway Center offerings designed to help students in the development of these soft skills - bringing students one step closer to full-time employment!
Communication Skills – By the time you enter the workforce you should be able to confidently speak in public and clarify interpretations of ideas.
A recent Forbes article listed communication skills among the top ten must-have skills for recent college graduates who are looking for employment. According to MIT Sloan lecturer Miro Kazakoff, “communication is part of everyone’s job” and communication skills are particularly important for millennials who are looking to have successful careers.
“By far, students want to get better presenting. What I hear from students in the classroom is that when they see leaders in an organization, one thing that consistently impresses them is a leader’s ability to communicate verbally. They feel the gap between where they are now and those leaders.” - Miro Kazakoff
While verbal communication is important, communication skills are not limited to the ability to speak clearly and confidently. Most positions today require employees to continuously work on improving their listening and written communication skills as well.
Conway events to help you practice/develop communication skills:
Interactive Harvard Business Review Webinar on 5 Essential Communication Skills
Stay tuned for parts 2-4, which will discuss Critical Thinking/Problem Solving, Leadership, and Teamwork.