Students are stressed like never before. Between afternoon classes and exam preparation, there is little time for leisure or social life. Professional life too is increasingly becoming about more than just technical skills. And this is where soft skills come into play.
To put it plainly: Your soft skills (also called social skills) help you to tackle situations above and beyond the knowledge you learn, complete tasks, and connect with other people. Everyone has them to some extent, but everyone has different strengths. The good news is that soft skills can be learned as well!
Why are soft skills so important to employers?
There was a time when businesses were almost exclusively defined by performance indicators such as turnover, profit, and market share. However businesses now know: Productivity alone is not a guarantee for success. How a company acts and integrates, adjusts to trends, innovations, and criticism, or how it communicates with the competition is also important.
This mentality has left its mark on human resources as well. What matters is not just what grades you got in school, but also whether you are independent, responsible, and cooperative, to name a few examples. Because only when all employees share the company ethos can they effectively represent the company.
A person with essential soft skills becomes a versatile asset for companies and as such is more effective and productive. Supplement your academic knowledge gained through studying with a range of practical accomplishments, and you can easily distinguish yourself from other applicants. A study by Statista, quoted by the site Praktikum.info determined the soft skills that high school graduates should take particular note of. Here we have compiled a list with the most important skills and how you can improve them.
Being resilient doesn’t mean you persist endlessly, do overtime constantly, or never fall ill. In practice it is important for businesses that you know yourself and your limits well, so that you can adjust to planned and unplanned pressure. Resilience also means finding a good work-life balance – generally speaking, a structured and healthy lifestyle, including regular sleeping patterns, a balanced diet, sufficient exercise, and a good social life. In other words, when you invest in your private life, you job prospects improve at the same time!
Those who can be enthusiastic about the idea behind a project work more efficiently and find creative solutions. For this reason, enthusiasm is something employers like to see in their teams. So consider what professional fields and occupations truly inspire you. You would like to work to protect the environment? Develop a new business model? Or convince people of the merits of a great product? Find what really inspires you and work towards it.
It sounds tricky, but is all the more important: Whether someone turns up to work for the money or wants to be of good use to the business is something employers look at very carefully. In this respect, it is vital for you to be clear on why you do what you do and what goal you are working towards.
4. Ability to work in a team
A classic! Even talented lone wolves must learn to work with others. An ability to work in a team means knowing your own strengths and weaknesses. That way you can find the roles and tasks within the group best suited to you, even if it means making compromises here and there for the sake of the whole project. If you have problems with that (don’t worry, many people do!), you can join a sports club, play in an orchestra, or simply motivate your friends to get involved in a good cause. Or try to work with a partner on the next school or university project. Teamwork becomes easier every time, promise!
5. Ability to communicate
Being able to communicate does not mean talking a lot; being able to speak well is known as rhetoric. Successful communication not only sounds good, but also functions well. You understand what your counterpart wants to say and you explain your concerns to him or her in a way that he or she can understand. You can practice this by asking yourself: What information does my counterpart really need so that we can reach our goals? That doesn’t always coincide with what your gut wants to say. Also important: Listen carefully.
6. Analytical thinking
According to the survey, the second most important quality for applicants is analytical thinking. This means that you approach problems in a structured and solution-oriented manner, before you put your plans into action. It is also important to be able to keep calm and weigh the next step in challenging situations. A classic to do list can help: Even complex tasks can be divided into manageable subtasks. This way you get a quick overview of the situation and can find the right solution step by step.
The number one among the desirable soft skills: showing initiative. This means you don’t just sit around and wait until someone gives you a task. You play an active part in the project. It is about finding your own role and thinking ahead. How can I advance the team? What hasn’t anyone thought about yet? Offer your help when you spot serious issues that others have missed. You won’t just train your eye for such opportunities, but you will also make your fellow human beings happy by doing so.
While soft skills are not generally taught at schools, they have found their way onto the curricula at forward-looking universities. At BiTS and BTK, soft skills are a fundamental part of the curriculum of each and every degree. They complete the portfolios of the graduates and ensure they have a competitive edge in their later career.