“The future belongs to those who learn more skills and combine them in creative ways”- Robert Greene
In this era of technology, possessing the required technical skills is inarguably
essential for meeting the demands of a job, however; it is often the presence of strong soft skills that sets apart
an average job applicant from the most fitting candidate. In the contemporary job market, which is marked by
constant change and global competition, employers show a growing preference for candidates who exhibit a diverse set
of qualities with soft skills being the most significant ones among others. A researchconducted by Harvard
University, postulates that about 85% of job success comes from having well‐developed soft and people skills, and
only 15% of job success comes from technical skills and knowledge (hard skills). This blog will therefore explore
the significance of these essential skills and offer practical tips for developing them.
II. What Are Soft Skills?
Soft skills, also known as interpersonal or people skills, are indispensable characteristics and qualities that extend beyond technical expertise and are pivotal in achieving personal and professional success. They hold significant value in both life and work, and their importance should not be underestimated.
Difference between soft and hard skills.
Hard skills encompass competencies that are quantifiable and are gained through education, training, and practical experience. It represents the specific abilities required to perform a particular task or fulfil a job role. On the other hand, soft skills pertain to the behavioural and interpersonal attributes that determine how effectively individuals engage with others and study various situations. Examples of hard skills include: Bookkeeping, proficiency in a foreign language, data analytics, financial management, engineering, reporting etc. Soft skills on the other hand include, creativity, empathy, problem solving, critical thinking, punctuality, work ethics, conflict resolution and effective communication to name a few.
Significance of soft skills in one’s personal and professional life.
Expressing your ideas and thoughts, actively listening, and showing respect for others’ opinions are not only crucial in our professional endeavours but also in our personal lives. Effective and considerate communication is a valuable asset that enhances all our relationships, promoting openness and understanding.
Our ability to manage our own emotions and connect with the emotions of others is a fundamental aspect of how we interact with the world. Empathy, a cornerstone of emotional intelligence, empowers us to be compassionate even when facing our own challenges. While it can be challenging, this personal soft skill also plays a crucial role in our professional lives, fostering effective teamwork and leadership.
Resolving conflicts by communicating.
Conflict resolution requires maintaining objectivity, examining the issue from multiple angles, and proposing solutions based on a comprehensive view. This process involves a combination of communication, analytical thinking, and interpersonal skills.
Creative thinking is a fundamental skill that holds value for individuals in both academic and professional settings. However, as you progress into higher management roles, creative thinking becomes indispensable. The ability to generate innovative ideas and envision the broader picture are reliant on our capacity for creative thought.
III. The Changing Landscape of the Job Market and Soft skills.
The COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in lasting changes in the work landscape, with remote and hybrid work arrangements becoming the norm. Soft skills are now highly valued by employers, providing a competitive edge for job seekers in this evolving job market. In a virtual setting, effective communication and collaboration skills are paramount. With the surge in remote job opportunities, the competition is fierce, and having strong soft skills becomes a crucial advantage in standing out and securing desired positions.
Its significance in the global market
In the global job market, soft skills, including leadership, communication, and problem-solving, play an essential role. While hard skills may grab a recruiter’s attention, soft skills add significant value to an individual’s profile. Moreover, these soft skills contribute to long-term career success by enabling individuals to adapt to evolving market conditions, ensuring their relevance and competitiveness.
The workspace now with the inception of AI and the relevance of soft skills.
According to the “The Future of Jobs Report 2020” from the World Economic Forum, it’s projected that AI could displace around 85 million jobs worldwide by 2025. However, the report also suggests that AI has the potential to generate approximately 97 million new job opportunities. A majority of 61% of workers reported that the greater utilisation of AI technology had a positive impact on their productivity, leading to increased efficiency in their tasks.While automation, AI, and digitalization are powerful tools for streamlining tasks and processing data, they can’t replicate the human qualities that soft skills offer. Soft skills, like emotional intelligence and intuition, allow us to form genuine connections, resolve conflicts, and adapt to new challenges in both our professional and personal lives. In this fast-evolving technological landscape, it’s crucial to nurture and enhance our soft skills alongside technical expertise. This not only sets us apart in the digital age but also fosters a more harmonious and inclusive work environment.
IV. The Significance of Soft Skills for career growth
Although A.I continues to bring about drastic changes to the job market, it is imperative to understand that soft skills are crucial for career growth as they enable individuals to effectively navigate the complex and dynamic world of work. Here are some key reasons why soft skills are important for career growth.
The relationship between being emotionally aware and career growth
Emotional intelligence comprises five essential components: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. In the workplace, emotional intelligence is primarily about a few key abilities. Surprisingly, emotional intelligence can be a critical skill for career growth and success. Statistics show that a notable 23% of new employees who didn’t meet expectations in their first 18 months on the job did so due to low emotional intelligence.
Growth mindset assists in viewing challenges positively
Individuals with a growth mindset tend to view failures or difficulties as opportunities to identify their strengths and weaknesses, enabling them to tackle future goals with a sense of improvement. On the other hand, someone with a fixed mindset might take a negative view, believing that they are simply not good at a particular task, which can hinder their future success because they don’t believe in their capacity for improvement.
The skill of adaptability to ensure continuous improvement
Adaptability is a crucial skill for success in any role or industry. Being open to change and having a positive attitude toward it can significantly contribute to a thriving career. In the ever-evolving business world, it is important not only to accept change as a reality but also to view it as an opportunity to explore new strategies for excelling in changing environments. This perspective aligns with the concept of a growth mindset, where you see challenges as chances for growth.
Problem solving skills and leadership
Problem-solving skills, a valuable set of soft skills, are essential for addressing difficult or unexpected issues in the workplace. These skills are highly appealing to employers, regardless of one’s position within the company.
One of the remarkable benefits of possessing problem-solving skills is the ability to proactively prepare for potential issues before they arise. This preparation involves developing techniques to handle common problems, as well as dealing with uncommon or worst-case scenarios. Being well-prepared significantly reduces the chances of feeling overwhelmed or having to stop work to manage unexpected challenges.This skill is essential for effective leadership and management roles as it helps leaders inspire and motivate their teams, while also resolving conflicts and making informed choices.
A common thread connecting these soft skills is positive attitude. Believing in positive outcomes even in challenging situations can help to navigate one’s job effectively and make a candidate a sought-after colleague at the same time ensure sustained progress and development in their field.
V. Soft Skills in Action
Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google, values persistence and curiosity as the most crucial soft skills in candidates, despite Google’s reputation for tough hiring assessments.
Schmidt highlights that persistence, the ability to persevere, is a significant predictor of future success, which is a concept supported by various studies. Renowned author and business professor Adam Grant highlights the importance of persistence in achieving success and happiness, suggesting how even artists who faced early rejections went on to create iconic works like Harry Potter, Disney, and the Beatles through unwavering determination.
Schmidt emphasises that combining persistence with genuine curiosity about the world and how things function is a significant yardstick of success in a knowledge-based economy.
To assess these qualities in candidates, interviewers can ask about instances where they demonstrated persistence despite challenges and inquire about their commitment to ongoing learning and knowledge building in their industry.
Apple is renowned as one of the most sought-after employers globally, with a reputation that suggests landing a job at an Apple store is more challenging than getting admitted to Harvard. Surprisingly, while many might believe that technical expertise is a must, Apple emphasises that they can provide the necessary tech knowledge. What they consider irreplaceable are the essential soft skills required to effectively represent the company and provide exceptional customer experiences. A successful applicant sums up the significance of soft skills at Apple
“Apple looks at how you talk more than what you know. It’s okay if you don’t know the answer to a question, but don’t just say, “I don’t know.”
Being pleasant and approachable.
In an Apple store, it’s essential to be approachable and maintain a friendly demeanour. If one struggles to connect with people and lacks a welcoming attitude, you might find it challenging to excel in this role.
Knowing how to talk
Being skilled at engaging with people is vital. Working at an Apple store primarily involves helping customers, and if you find it difficult to initiate conversations with unfamiliar individuals, you might not find fulfilment or success in this position.
VI. Developing Soft Skills
Soft skills are not fixed traits; they are behavioural and interpersonal skills that can be honed through practice, learning, and self-awareness. Here are some ways to develop and enhance soft skills:
Feedback is a critical aspect of developing soft skills, providing valuable information for students’ growth. However, giving and receiving feedback can be intimidating. To establish a conducive feedback culture, teachers should create a safe and supportive environment, ensuring that students feel secure. The feedback given should be specific, actionable, and centred on areas that need improvement.
Reflective journaling is a valuable technique to foster self-awareness and emotional intelligence in students. It involves writing down or discussing thoughts and feelings about personal experiences, focusing on self-improvement and personal growth. This practice can be done through journaling, worksheets, or group discussions.
By engaging in reflective journaling, you gain insights into your strengths and weaknesses, facilitating the enhancement of soft skills. Additionally, it develops the ability to manage emotions, build resilience, and cultivate a positive mindset.
Highlighting your ability to work effectively in a team demonstrates collaborative skills to your employer. Teamwork can take many forms, from participating in group presentations to working closely with a colleague on shared tasks. In these collaborative efforts, it’s crucial to ensure that every team member has the opportunity to contribute their skills and strengths, fostering an environment that values diversity and individual contributions.
Build positive relationships
Cultivating positive relationships is essential for fostering the soft skills necessary in the workplace. Finding common ground or shared experiences can be a valuable way to connect with others. Additionally, organising group activities outside of the office, provides an opportunity to connect on a personal level. These personal connections can offer insights into one’s personality and work ethics, ultimately benefiting professional interactions.
Getting outside one’s comfort zone
To enhance your skills, it is crucial to embrace new challenges and venture beyond one’s comfort zone. This might involve exploring new environments, taking on fresh responsibilities, or assuming a leadership position. For instance, volunteering to deliver a project presentation within your group can be an opportunity to enhance your public speaking abilities. Stepping into uncharted professional territory not only demonstrates your commitment to your job but also opens doors for acquiring new knowledge and expertise.
VII. Soft Skills for Personal Growth
Enhancing soft skills goes beyond professional advantages and extends to various aspects of life. Interpersonal and self-management skills are not only beneficial in the workplace but also have a positive impact on personal relationships and overall well-being.
The qualities that motivate individuals to succeed in their careers, such as effective communication, empathy, and charisma, are equally valuable for nurturing relations in one’s personal life. When one approaches interactions with openness, authenticity, active listening, and respect for others’ perspectives, it naturally draws people closer.
Strong social relationships developed through soft skills play a crucial role in leading a fulfilling life, contributing to happiness, improved health, and increased longevity.
VIII. Navigating Challenges and Overcoming Obstacles
Although acquiring and improving soft skills can be challenging for some, there are effective strategies to overcome potential obstacles during the learning process.
- Be patient and persistent: Recognize that developing soft skills is a gradual process. It may take time to see significant improvements, so being patient and persistent is the key.
- Maintaining consistency: Developing soft skills is an ongoing process. Some individuals may struggle to maintain consistency in their efforts. It is therefore beneficial to set regular milestones and review your progress periodically. Keeping a journal to track your development and make adjustments when needed is a great strategy to overcome this challenge.
- Finding the right feedback: Constructive feedback is essential for growth. However, it can be difficult to obtain honest and valuable feedback from peers or superiors. Seeking feedback from individuals you trust and who are willing to provide constructive criticism is crucial.
- Celebrate achievements: Acknowledge and celebrate your milestones and successes in soft skills development. This positive reinforcement can keep you motivated.
In summary, developing soft skills can be challenging, but with commitment, self-awareness, and perseverance, individuals can overcome these challenges and enhance their interpersonal, communication, and self-management skills.
IX. Soft Skills in Education
Incorporating soft skills development into formal education, including schools and universities, is of paramount importance for several reasons. Soft skills are not only essential for personal growth but also for success in the increasingly complex and interconnected world of work and society. Here’s why it is crucial and the role educational institutions can play:
Holistic Development: Formal education provides a structured environment where students can develop not only their academic knowledge but also their soft skills. Fostering these skills ensures a well-rounded and holistic education.
Career Readiness: Soft skills such as communication, teamwork, adaptability, and problem-solving are highly sought after by employers. Incorporating their development in education makes students more career-ready and competitive in the job market.
Effective Communication: Effective communication skills are critical for success in any field. Schools and universities can provide opportunities for students to improve their verbal and written communication abilities through presentations, debates, and writing assignments.
Collaboration and Teamwork: Many professions require collaboration and teamwork. Educational institutions can organise group projects and activities that encourage students to work together, enhancing their interpersonal skills and ability to cooperate effectively.
Critical Thinking and Problem Solving: Soft skills like critical thinking and problem-solving are nurtured through exercises that challenge students to analyse complex situations, make informed decisions, and think creatively. This equips them to handle real-world challenges.
Adaptability and Resilience: The world is constantly changing, and adaptability is a valuable skill. Educational institutions can expose students to diverse experiences, cultural perspectives to develop the skill of adaptability.
To foster soft skills, schools and universities can integrate them into the curriculum through various means, such as experiential learning, extracurricular activities, mentorship programs, and workshops. They can also offer courses or modules specifically dedicated to soft skills development. Moreover, educators can serve as role models by embodying and teaching these skills.
While academic achievements are important, it’s crucial to prepare students for the demands of the professional world, where soft skills play a significant role in their success.
In conclusion, MBIS recognizes the pivotal role of soft skills as the hidden foundation of personal and professional success. These interpersonal and behavioural attributes, including communication, teamwork, adaptability, problem-solving, and emotional intelligence, are integral to navigating the complexities of the modern world. MBIS understands that soft skills extend beyond mere competence; they reflect our capacity to relate to others, empathize, communicate effectively, and adapt in an ever-evolving world. These skills serve as the cornerstones of positive relationships, effective teamwork, leadership, and personal growth.
As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, the value of soft skills in the education provided by Cambridge schools in Mumbai, such as MBIS, will only grow. MBIS emphasizes the development of these skills as an integral part of education to ensure that individuals are not only academically adept but also equipped with the qualities necessary to succeed in a diverse, dynamic, and ever-evolving global landscape. As a recognized International school in Mumbai, MBIS is committed to nurturing these skills among its students.
Therefore, at MBIS, individuals are encouraged to begin their journey toward developing soft skills today. Embracing self-awareness, setting clear goals, and actively seeking feedback are essential steps. By reading, observing, and learning from those who excel in these areas, individuals at MBIS can leverage the power of soft skills to not only advance their careers but also make a positive impact on personal relationships and the broader community. The commitment to fostering these skills sets MBIS apart as a beacon for holistic education in the vibrant city of Mumbai, offering quality education aligned with the standards of the IGCSE board school in Mumbai.
XI. Additional Resources to know more about Soft skills
- People and Soft Skills for Professional and Personal Success Specialization. https://www.coursera.org/specializations/people-and-soft-skills-for-professional-success
- Finding Your Professional Voice: Confidence & Impact. https://www.coursera.org/learn/finding-your-professional-voice
- Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects. https://www.coursera.org/learn/learning-how-to-learn
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Mountjoy, Billy. “The Importance of Soft Skills in Today’s Job Market.” LinkedIn, 24 Jan. 2023, www.linkedin.com/pulse/importance-soft-skills-todays-job-market-billy-mountjoy#:~:text=.
Soft Skills Are Your Superpower | Unicef South Asia, www.unicef.org/rosa/stories/soft-skills-are-your-superpower.
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“Soft Skills, Wider Perspective: Qualities Employers Are Looking for Globally.” The Economic Times, economictimes.indiatimes.com/nri/work/soft-skills-perspective-qualities-employers-are-looking-for-globally/articleshow/99493791.cms.
University of Calgary Continuing Education, conted.ucalgary.ca/blog/2023/0428-softskills.jsp.
“The Impact of AI on the Job Market and the Future of Work.” Intellect Data, 25 June 2023, intellectdata.com/the-impact-of-ai-on-the-job-market-and-the-future-of-work/.
“What Is Holistic Education? Understanding the Benefits: American University.” School of Education Online, 29 Oct. 2022, soeonline.american.edu/blog/what-is-holistic-education/.