Soft Skills in the Workplace
Hard skills are the technical expertise and knowledge needed for a job. Soft skills are interpersonal qualities, also known as people skills, and personal attributes that one possesses. Business executives consider soft skills a very important attribute in job applicants. Employers want new employees to have strong soft skills, as well as hard skills. This study identified the top 10 soft skills as perceived the most important by business executives: integrity, communication, courtesy, responsibility, social skills, positive attitude, professionalism, flexibility, teamwork, and work ethic.
Some key points
"One study found that 75% of long-term job success depends on people skills, while only 25% is dependent on technical knowledge (Klaus, 2010)."
"Another study indicated that hard skills contribute only 15% to one’s success, whereas 85% of success is due to soft skills (Watts & Watts, 2008, as cited in John, 2009)."
Soft skills are transferable to many different kinds of careers.
"As employers are progressively looking for employees who are mature and socially well adjusted, they rate soft skills as number one in importance for entry-level success on the job (Wilhelm, 2004)."
Top 10 Soft Skills
- Communication – oral, speaking capability, written, presenting, listening
- Courtesy – manners, etiquette, business etiquette, gracious, says please and thank you, respectful
- Flexibility – adaptability, willing to change, lifelong learner, accepts new things, adjusts, teachable
- Integrity – honest, ethical, high morals, has personal values, does what’s right
- Interpersonal Skills – nice, personable, sense of humor, friendly, nurturing, empathetic, has self-control, patient, sociability, warmth, social skills
- Positive Attitude – optimistic, enthusiastic, encouraging, happy, confident
- Professionalism – businesslike, well-dressed, appearance, poised
- Responsibility – accountable, reliable, gets the job done, resourceful, self-disciplined, wants to do well, conscientious, common sense
- Teamwork – cooperative, gets along with others, agreeable, supportive, helpful, collaborative
- Work Ethic – hard working, willing to work, loyal, initiative, self-motivated, on time, good attendance
Integrity and Communication ranked as the 2 most important.
- Divide students into small groups
- Take no more than 20 minutes
- Each group choose 2+ soft skills
- Discuss each soft skill with each other
- Come up with a way to define and explain that soft skill
- Each student may consider their own personal or professional experience
- Each group may go online for definitions and examples (provided they cite their sources).
- After no more than 20 minutes, each group
- Defines and explains the soft skill to the rest of the class
- Present 2 workplace models to the rest of the class: a positive model of how to use that skill, and a negative model of failing to use that skill.