Marching Into the Future

Soft Skills Not Included - 1

With thousands of graduates entering the workforce soon, job hunting is at its peak.

One of the most popular narratives in the HR world is the ‘skills gap’ that exists between the abilities employers are seeking in successful candidates. These skills are not visible on resumes, but they are critical to holding a position.

Beyond skills readily demonstrable from the college curriculum (primarily cognitive skills and technical skills), there’s the big question of soft skills. Sadly, not all young people possess the employability skills required by potential employers.

More often we hear employers complaining about the soft skills of college graduates: leadership, the ability to work in a team, written communication skills, problem-solving, a strong work ethic, and grit. Employers aren’t only seeking graduates who know something; they want career-ready candidates.

As a poet wrote, “Ships sail east, and ships sail west by the self-same breezes blow. It’s the set of the sail and not the gale that determines where they go.”

If we’re going to help our graduates achieve a positional advantage, they need to develop and acquire a combination of skills: the core/hard skills and soft/transferable skills.

The Sparrow

I’m reminded of an African proverb about a sparrow flying merrily through the air when he hears a clap of thunder. The sparrow fell to the ground with his two little legs sticking straight up in the air.

An eagle flying nearby saw the sparrow and asked, “What’s happening?” The sparrow replied, “The sky is falling down.” The eagle, mocking the little bird, replied, “And what are you going to do, hold it up with those scrawny legs of yours?” The sparrow looked at the majestic eagle with resignation and replied: “One does what one can, with what one has.”

As leaders, we must be like the sparrow and do our best with what we have. If you have employees who lack skills, don’t avoid this critical responsibility to help them be the best version of themselves.

There’s an old saying along the lines of: “A mule cannot kick when he is pulling, and he cannot pull when he is kicking.” Always pull your team in the same direction; kicking is not productive.

You are responsible for the workplace culture, including implementing your acquired soft skills to help graduates be better prepared for the working world.

Teach Soft Skills

Soft skills should be taught to our graduates to assist them in career development and acquiring new skills. Skills like empathy, critical thinking, creativity, effective communication, and other life skills will drive them to achieve career success.

These transferrable skills will help recruits to better adapt to your organizational culture. Similarly, to emotional intelligence, acquiring interpersonal skills will likely predict successful leaders.

Exercise your coachable soft skills to build bridges with your workforce. Even if, like the sparrow, you have to use scrawny legs. Be the sparrow, walk the talk. Teaching someone how to have a better work ethic, be a team player, or be more productive may not follow a predetermined formula, but it still can be done.

If you want to have a conversation to discuss soft skills training, use this link to book a discovery call.

As our graduates enter the workforce during these turbulent economic times, their ability to thrive may just be a result of your actions today.