Whether you are a recent graduate, a senior or someone whose uni years have just begun, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the job market waiting for you out there. According to The Harris Poll, two-thirds of students between 14 and 23 years of age prioritise financial security as their top reason for achieving academic success, while 40% of graduates are effectively underemployed, working in professions which don’t require university degrees.
While degrees are more than essential when it comes to landing a job you really want, your CV will have to contain an additional value for the employer to consider hiring you outright. Soft skills represent a unique set of abilities which are often overlooked in academia due to their practice-oriented nature.
However, soft skills are required for effective day-to-day communication, coworker collaboration and client sales and negotiations just to name a few instances. With that said, let’s take a look at how you can develop soft skills efficiently and thus improve your career development chances down the line.
Why should you boost your Soft Skills?
Let’s discuss the importance of soft skills before tackling the process of acquiring such abilities yourself. Soft skills are a stark contrast to hard skills, which involve concrete knowledge of certain academic and professional fields. For example, programming is a hard skill, while team management is a soft skill.
“Candidates with hard skills in their resumes without any soft skills, volunteering experience or internship history are often overlooked by HR for obvious reasons.”
Best Soft Skills to Pursue
mentioned several important soft skills up until now – but which ones should
you make a priority? Just like hard skills, soft skills vary in complexity and
day-to-day usefulness for individual employees. Apart from the ones we’ve
mentioned, some of the best soft skills to pursue include:
Written communication and
Problem solving and time
Agile workflow mindset
Social and personal
Coaching and feedback
How to Acquire Soft Skills
1. Adopt a Learning Attitude
The first order of business in terms of learning new soft skills for your career development is to adopt a positive attitude. More specifically – it’s okay if you are not great at something right now. Mathew Richards, Chief Creative Officer at Supreme Dissertations spoke on the topic briefly:
“Same as with riding a bicycle or playing a new video game, learning the ropes of soft skills is a baseline necessity. Best of all, today’s digital world offers a plethora of content on the topics of soft skills, including YouTube channels, e-books and dedicated blogs just to name a few.”
While personal predisposition does play a part in learning soft skills, it’s important to simply try before calling it a day without giving yourself a shot.
2. Set Concrete Goals
your sights on new soft skills is a great way to start your personal
development journey as a student or a graduate. However, it’s also essential
that you make your goals as concrete and attainable as possible.
Goal-setting techniques such as SMART will allow you to create a stable plan for your soft skills development without relying on vague sticky notes or promises which, while noble, often go unfulfilled. Choose a limited number of skills to explore at a time and look for ways in which you can adapt those skills to your personal sensibilities, adding more value to their place in your resume as a result.
3. Find a Trustworthy Mentor
the nature of soft skills, you will have to find a mentor whom you trust with
your personal development. A mentor can be anyone from a close friend, a family
member or a teacher willing to help you out. Simply reading about soft skills
without implementing them in real-world practice scenarios won’t amount to
The importance of mentorship lies in providing feedback about your development and being able to practice your soft skills with someone. Your mentor can also advise on which skills suit you personally more than others, allowing for an even more efficient learning process to take place.
4. Utilise your Target Skills
Soft skills can be utilised on a daily basis and in a wide variety of social scenarios. This is why you should practice your soft skills in whichever situation you find yourself in, be it at the supermarket, at a sports game or during a night out with close friends. Adopting such a learning process to your soft skills acquisition will help you become used to and unaware of their existence, making them a natural part of your character going forward.
5. Review & Improve your CV
Lastly, once you are confident in your ability to use a certain skill in your career development, you should absolutely add it to your CV. Adding new skills as you perfect them will help materialise those goals and make them easier to visualise.
Once you increase the skills listed in your CV, you will be driven to learn more about additional abilities and techniques associated with those soft skills. Your newly improved CV will allow you to land more professional opportunities, including internships and permanent employment as a result of your proactive initiative with personal development.
Today’s job market is filled with graduates with nothing more to show in their CV other than exemplary academic performance. As we’ve previously mentioned, those elements are more than welcome when looking for career opportunities.
However, a large sample of soft skills demonstrated in your CV will increase your chances of being employed sooner rather than later. Adopt a learning mentality and try to learn something new each day once you get into the rhythm of soft skills development – your future self will thank you for it.
Estelle Liotard is a professional Content Creator and Editor with years of experience from writing for websites such as GrabMyEssay and TrustMyPaper. Her passion for helping students succeed and reach their goals has granted her a spot on the writing team of WowGrade, where she frequently writes about topics such as finding writing motivation and staying focused on achieving one’s goals. In her spare time, she loves reading and spending time with her dog.