Whitney PetersonChicago, ILDecember 27, 2017
LinkedIn recently released a 2017 U.S. Emerging Jobs Report, which analyzed LinkedIn data to identify skills on the rise and highlight opportunities for professionals in a variety of emerging careers. Some of these skills are what you might expect: technology remains important and flexibility and mobility are essential for job seekers. But somewhat surprisingly, the Emerging Jobs Report notes that while traditional hard skills remained important, a foundation of soft skills underpinned emerging jobs throughout 2017.
Soft skills are the personal attributes and traits needed to interact and communicate with others. You may have also heard of them as non-cognitive skills, social and emotional skills, or character development. These skills are not easy to acquire and typically aren’t a major focus in the classroom. Despite this, as evidenced by the LinkedIn Jobs Report, they are critical to success in a job.
Here are a few of the soft skills that students may need to display to get a job and succeed in the workplace. Do your students have these skills? Do they practice them often?
Communication skills: Effectively communicating with peers and supervisors through written and verbal means are critical. Can your students articulate viewpoints and arguments? Are they comfortable with different people and in different settings? School is a time for students to practice getting comfortable with presenting themselves well, through politeness, respect, and non-verbal communication like body language and eye contact.
Collaboration and Team Work: When workers at a company share ideas and work as a team, the output is typically more successful than when they work in silos. You can help students learn to collaborate with others by ensuring that they work on group projects and on teams. Working together to reach a common goal is the cornerstone of teamwork and an effective company.
Adaptability: Developing knowledge and skills are critical to any workplace, but today’s workplace is also rapidly changing. The ability to adapt to new technologies and ideas is important for any student or employee. Make sure that your students are well-versed in technology and computer-literate, but also make sure they are using imagination and inferring from past experiences to anticipate the future and adapt to any new changes.
Problem-solving: Do your students rely on resourcefulness to confront challenges that may arise in school? Students who are skilled at problem-solving analyze the challenges, evaluate alternatives, and implement and assess a plan of action. When the students encounter problems at their workplace, they can apply these same skills there.
Creativity: When students come up with the solution, are they thinking inside or outside of the box? Give your students strategies for being resourceful and innovative when it comes to solving problems. Make sure your students are prepared to answer the common interview question of how they encountered and responded to a tricky problem.
When most people apply for jobs, they tend to emphasize hard skills-- as in, their knowledge and abilities that pertain to a certain job. These are important skills to highlight! But let your students know that that soft skills are also in demand and will help them become even better job contenders in a world that demands emotional intelligence and a dynamic personality.
Help your high school students get the soft skills to succeed in school and throughout their lives. Our high school solutions give students the skills to set goals, achieve academically, and get prepared for college and career. Learn more here.