Every year, on an average, over 5,00,000 students graduates enter India’s job market. While the GDP of India is seeing a growth of 6.72 percent in 2017, the job market didn’t fare so well. In 2018, the job market is seeing a reprisal for economic growth, with a major push towards skill development. This measure comes in favour of covering the skill gap that exists in the nation. While technical skills are imparted through various educational institutes, Indian graduates are still lacking when it comes to soft skill management.
It may come as a surprise to many who regard soft skills as recent additions to the demands of recruiters, but their needs were recognised over 100 years back. Perhaps now, these are better categorized and tabulated. So what are soft skills as compared to hard skills like domain expertise?
- Are generally applicable across job types (hence portable)
- No rigid framework exists for learning/mastering these
- Learning a soft skill is an ongoing process; further, these are difficult to measure
- Generally revolve around interpersonal, relationships
A frequent observation across managements today is that freshers, sometimes experienced candidates as well, are unemployable due to their total lack of soft skills. Employers need new entrants to merge well with the organisation, not cause disruptions at the workplace and have steep learning curves.
Ten essential soft skills today, across job categories, could (arguably) be summarized as below:
- Communication Skills
- Time management
The top-rated soft skill for 2018 by LinkedIn, leadership is a skill that may not come right-off the bat for many. But graduates can exhibit leadership traits by seeking out activities that focus on leadership traits. An employee who can take a lead in critical situations will be a front contender for advancement
“No man is an island” is an old metaphor that holds firm in today’s corporate world. All workers at all skill or seniority levels and in all types of jobs have to be able to communicate to be effective. Written, verbal, body language, a perception of co-workers, presentation skills, meeting skills…the list is endless!
If your boss/co-worker/client knows you are dependable and will deliver on your commitments, growth is assured. On the other hand, any person labelled as undependable will have a zero growth path.
All organisations need people who are self-starters/self-motivated and do not require prodding to do their work, make improvements and in general, deliver without intervention from superiors.
A high level of commitment to one’s work and organisation makes a person more valuable to the company. This is also a reflection of one’s positive attitude, a trait highly appreciated by employers. Indifferent workers will be, at best, side-lined.
Creativity as a skill is not limited to the design or research fields. Recruiters look for employees that exhibit innovative solutions to solve problems. This sets an individual apart from others, showing the employer that one is not only committed to the organisation but is also a thinking worker rather than an automaton. This could also serve to make even repetitive tasks more interesting.
A positive approach to work-related issues makes good workers identify not only a problem but also possible solutions; which naturally endear the employee to the company.
In today’s highly integrated world, complete individual work is almost non-existent. While individual contribution is necessary, in a workplace teamwork is essential as well. Students have to learn the ability to work as and contribute to a team. Lone-wolves have no place in the corporate or even the non-corporate world.
A very rigid employee is no better today than a machine. All organisations need and expect their employees to be flexible in respect of their assigned work, timings, coworkers, skill development, learning on the job and so on.
On time delivery of work is a must for any industry. Having the ability to manage your time efficiently is a key skill that can get you ahead in your career. Students need to learn how to balance their work life, prioritise tasks and not succumb to stress.
Building on one’s soft skills has become an essential trait to not only get a job but also move ahead in your career. Most of us may have a combination of the above mentioned soft skills but may fail to translate it into our job application. Ensure you highlight your skills through projects and situations in your life that demonstrate specific traits. Example: Talk about a time when your leadership skill helped your team get out of a sticky situation at your college.