I also conclude three reasons why soft skills are critical to our workplace success.1
Soft skills are the most difficult to master and will separate us from the mass. Almost anyone can learn basic Professionalism and the necessary Work Attitude that are fundamental to career success. Soft skill are the other hands can take years of practice and conscious effort.
Soft skills are not taught well in school. With hard skills, many schools have rigorous programs regarding how to develop specific hard skills. As long as we are smart and can study hard, we can master the hard skills. Soft skills courses in school are often scarce or impractical taught by professors that may have never worked in the business world.
We have to find ways to learn and practice soft skills at work to truly master them.
Soft skills are what will get us promoted, especially to executive level (VP and above). If we look at any executives we admire today, I would bet that the reasons they advanced to that level is heavily due to their leadership skills, communication skills, or ability to inspire action and deliver results – all soft skills. The secret to succeeding like an executive in any corporation is mastering these 28 soft skills (18 people skills and 10 self management skills
1 Stanford engineer, Wharton MBA |15+ years of business experience |A top career success expert |
- NACE National Association of College & Employers – Career Readiness Competencies: Employer Survey Results
- In December 2014, the NACE Career Readiness Committee surveyed 606 representatives from organizations that hire through a university relations and recruiting effort.
Results from the survey served as an initial vetting of seven competency areas underpinning “career readiness.” (Note the competencies themselves were identified through two main sources.*)
By type of organization, respondents represented for-profit, private organizations (49.2 percent); for-profit, publicly held firms (20.8 percent); government agencies (15.3 percent); and nonprofit organizations (14.6 percent). By size, respondents represented employers large and small, with the largest concentrations at both ends of the spectrum: 24 percent 1 – 50 employees (24 percent); 51 – 100 employees (9.8 percent); 101 – 250 employees (9.8 percent); 251 – 500 employees (7.6 percent); 501 – 1,000 employees (6.9 percent); 1,001 – 5,000 employees (13.8 percent); 5,001 – 10,000 employees (8.3 percent); and more than 10,000 employees (19.6 percent).
Nearly 20 industries were represented in the respondent pool, but the greatest concentrations were in professional services consulting (includes accounting, engineering, law, computers, and advertising), with 21.5 percent of the pool; education (13 percent); organizations classified as “other manufacturing” (11.9 percent); and government organizations (8 percent).
Essential Career Readiness Competencies
Respondents were asked to indicate the extent to which they view the seven competencies as essential to new college hire success when considering new college graduate candidates for their workplaces.
Overall, “professional/work ethic” topped the list, with nearly all respondents identifying this competency as either “absolutely essential” or “essential.” However, as Figure 1 indicates, four of the seven competencies were identified as such by 90 percent or more respondents.
Figure 1: Career readiness competencies identified as absolutely essential/essential, by percent of respondents
- Competency Percent of Respondents
- Professionalism/Work Ethic 97.5 percent
- Critical Thinking/Problem Solving 96.3 percent
- Oral/Written Communications 91.6 percent
- Teamwork/Collaboration 90 percent
- Information Technology Application 72 percent
- Leadership 55.9 percent
- Career Management 45 percent