The Soft Skills College Students Need to Develop

Students Learning / Group interview

Life-post college may be unsettling for many new graduates, especially those who have graduated during economic uncertainty. The challenge of finding the coveted first-job-out-of-college is a daunting thought for many fresh graduates. Students have the degrees, they have the knowledge, but what else do they need? Employers have routinely stated that soft-skills are an essential aspect in their decision to hire a new candidate or not. And sadly, not all young people possess the employability skills required by potential employers. One would think that with extensive career exploration, graduates could get employed with jobs that suit them appropriately. But in the current workforce, employers seek soft skills in potential employees that will help gain workplace success in their organizations. I would like to showcase three key soft-skills we believe are critical for the future career of young graduates to help them achieve career success after college.

Creative problem-solving

The challenges that graduates have with modern organizations today; were not faced by the previous generations. Soft skills were not required to guarantee career success in past years only hard skills. The old rule books do not apply in real life anymore. Creative problem-solving is an approach to providing creative solutions through independent ideas. The modern-day method of problem-solving demands graduates to be able to look at problems and quickly come up with new solutions with limited-to-no contextual resources present. They are expected to apply their skill in critical thinking to come up with ideas and innovations that advance workplace success.

How to leverage new technology to attract a new audience subset, how to leverage big-data to drive insightful and unique solutions, or how to convert traditional businesses into modern hubs of commerce. Answering these questions demands new ways to approach the problem.

Communication skills: give & receive feedback

These days, employers assess the viability of a candidate often upon their promotability. Questions arise, such as questions to test your role play in a work environment like; can this candidate become a manager/leader in the organization? Does this person have effective listening skills and make effective eye contact. Or questions to try and test your level of adaptability in situations that require teamwork. The ability to provide feedback that corrects team members for their mistakes but motivates them to improve for the next iteration, helps with self-awareness and shows how good of a leader such a person could be. Do students know how to approach feedback? Unfortunately not, the current education system and learning environment are built around a central source for information, where the professor owns the feedback on each student's assignments. Students themselves are not taught how to provide feedback on their peers’ work.

Effective teamwork

New employees would rarely be placed in an isolated work environment. Some employers believe they lack the important skills , necessary to achieve workplace success. Instead, new hires are fixed to work in collaborative settings with other team members who possess the essential job skills needed. Many employers are attracted to students who can challenge group thinking and engage in communication activities. They pick interests in students who feel empowered to showcase their problem-solving and decision-making skills to provide solutions when in the face of a problem rather than acceding to everyone else's suggestions. Teamwork skills are essential in the modern workplace, and the ability to engage in interactive discussions among team members is an interpersonal skill that can help graduates in a new place of work. Soft skills like active listening, verbal communication, and having a positive attitude can help graduates in developing team building and effective teamwork.

Teaching soft skills

To achieve career success, students are advised to work ahead of time. Students from middle school as well as high school students do not have to wait till they get to college or until they are graduates before grooming their soft skills. Soft skills should be taught to students to assist them in skill development and acquiring new skills. These are a few examples of soft skills that could help students thrive in a place of work. Skills like; time management, adaptability, public speaking, effective communication, and many other life skills that will drive them to achieve career success. As new school term approaches, instructors should look at tools that embed the learning of soft-skills to give their students soft skills training. As your students graduate and enter the workforce during these turbulent economic times, their ability to thrive may just be a result of your actions today.

Chris Palazzo
Marketer & Educator. Blending the two here at Kritik