Soft skills are needed in performing jobs, especially at the graduate or professional level. Employers look for them in applicants. Professionals use them in dealing with one another. As a student, you should develop them in higher education and even earlier. Show these soft skills to further improve your chances of getting a place at your desired course and university. Eventually, you should demonstrate these soft skills in your application for graduate jobs where you will start your professional career.
According to a recent survey (2016) by an employment consulting firm, employers look for in graduates the soft skills of leadership, entrepreneurial attitude, intellectual curiosity, analytical skills, extracurricular activities and interpersonal skills.
A UK government agency handling careers service reports that employers want graduates who have skills in communicating, making decisions, showing commitment, flexibility, time management, leadership, creativity and problem-solving, being a team player, accepting responsibility and ability to work under pressure.
Students can start developing these soft skills at GCSE and A Level for university and employment and career after. This is especially so with skills in collaboration, communication and interpersonal working interactions, problem-solving, time management and leadership.
Communication and Interpersonal Skills
One hindrance to doing your university projects and work place tasks successfully is poor communication and interpersonal skills. Even individual projects need you to talk with other employees and even your boss. At university, you need to communicate with your tutor, dissertation adviser and people inside and outside the school.
Collaboration and Team Work
Some important tasks at university and work must be done in groups. You need to know how to communicate, behave and act in a group setting that you can contribute to the better accomplishment of the team’s task and not cause undesirable or unnecessary conflicts. So, start with confirming your attendance to your group meeting, be punctual, participate cooperatively, volunteer any helpful expertise you have and do what you have said that you will do.
Work Ethics: Commitment, Diligence, Hard Work, Flexibility and Working Under Pressure
As a member of a group and in a higher level as a leader, you should be enthusiastic, dependable, reliable and enjoy hard work from the start of a project until the end, both in university and work, and every day at your job. At school and on the job, you should be adaptable and flexible because these environments can change rapidly. You can further improve and professors and employers will give you more opportunities if you will step outside your comfort zone and take on more challenging tasks and roles.
Problem-Solving, Decision-Making, Intellectual Curiosity, and Analytical Skills
An important part of work, professional or entrepreneurial endeavour is solving problems and making decisions. They will even start in high school. You need to be prepared for university problems and making bigger decisions. Life is full of problems to face and decisions to make. Know how to solve problems and make decisions if you are to develop as a person and be a positive part of the society.
You should start developing your problem solving skills and decision making abilities in high school. Join project groups to get experience in handling individual and team problems and making decisions for yourself and with others. In these and other tasks, you also need to be intellectually curious and analytical. Meaning, you should solve problems and make decisions based on knowledge, facts, research and analysis.
Time Management and Extracurricular Activities
Doing tasks and solving problems in university and work will require time management. Projects have due dates and you need to know how to allocate your available time into a plan of your tasks and carry them out. That is time management. Again, just like the other soft skills mentioned earlier, you can start developing this at high school for university and work. You should show to the university or the employer how you have effectively managed your time doing your academics, extracurricular organisation and maybe part time student jobs.
Leadership skills will come in handy. Whether at work or university, you may be asked to lead a group or need to act in such capacity. It is an opportunity to learn more and improve further, so you should be ready with the leadership skills to do it successfully. As a leader, you need to know how to motivate or inspire your members, secure the necessary resources and work together.
Students and employees who have leadership qualities or the potential to become a leader will come in handy for universities and employers. If you have these, you have an advantage over others. Join student organisations in high school and university, be active as a member, develop skills in team work and leadership, eventually be a leader – officially or not.
Get that University Place and Graduate Job!
As a student applying for a place in your preferred course or a graduate competing for a job, you should show that you have the soft skills university and employers prefer. Develop skills in communication and interpersonal interaction, collaboration, teamwork, working under pressure, problem-solving, decision-making, analysing, and time management; and develop commitment, flexibility, intellectual curiosity and leadership. At high school and university, you should develop as an individual and work well with others in academic projects, extra-curricular activities, community organisations and in student jobs.