How To Find College Courses That Teach Soft Skills | Best Colleges

Although students gain in-depth knowledge in their chosen discipline, it is often the soft skills that will help them land a job.

Soft skills are attributes that govern how an employee interacts with others in the workplace. Regardless of technical skills, these traits are more about navigating the world of work than the actual practical part of having a job.

“As our workforce has become more diverse, it has become necessary to be more adaptable, to be able to adapt to the environment and to move to technology. These skills may have become all the more important to employers,” says Wendy Hilton-Morrow, who is vice president of academic affairs, provost and dean, and professor of communication studies at Augustana College in the United States. ‘Illinois.

“They need students more than ever who not only have disciplinary depth, but who will be able to change as the information we have changes or the technology we use changes, because that’s something which we’re definitely seeing more and more,” she says.

Hard skills — the abilities students learn in college to get a job — are important, but 92% of human resources professionals say soft skills matter as much or more, according to more than 5,000 responses to the survey in the LinkedIn Global Talent Trends 2019 report.

In interviews with higher education and HR professionals, these soft skills emerged as essential for employers:

  • Leadership.
  • Team work.
  • Communication skills.
  • Conflict resolution.
  • Problem solving.
  • Flexibility and adaptability.
  • Social and emotional intelligence.
  • Management of time.

According to experts, colleges have focused more on developing soft skills in recent years due to the emphasis from employers.

“Those hiring have noticed a lack of people who can get along and work harmoniously together, leave their egos at the door, and pursue a common goal,” says Kina S. Mallard, president of Reinhardt University of Georgia. . “That’s why we talk a lot more about soft skills.”

She notes that a seminar for freshmen at Reinhardt teaches these skills early, focusing on issues such as professional communication. The students learn to send e-mails and text messages – something they have been doing for years – in a professional way.

Soft skills are especially important in a tight job market where companies compete for talent. The US Department of Labor reported a national unemployment rate of 3.8% for March, which means workers are in high demand.

Employers are looking for people who can come in, listen, learn and be part of a team, says Jeremy Tolley, chief human resources officer of CareHere LLC, a Tennessee-based national medical services company, and advisor to the Society for Human Resource Management. .

“The workplace is about us and us, and what we achieve together,” Tolley says.

According to experts, students can develop desired soft skills both in and out of the classroom.

A communications course is an example of a course that teaches soft skills, Hilton-Morrow says. But students can also learn these skills in any class that emphasizes problem-based learning, she says.

Using an anatomy class as an example, Hilton-Morrow suggests that whenever students have to work together to solve a problem, they learn to delegate and manage potential conflict. She believes that students learn soft skills when they are pushed beyond their limits and forced to overcome challenges.

She notes that for many students, the answers were just “one click away,” so it’s important that they challenge themselves early in their college career. By stepping out of their comfort zone, she feels that students will learn more about themselves and their skills.

Mallard says that in addition to communication classes, acting classes can be a good way to learn to see different perspectives by becoming someone else through a character. Generally, she says, any class where students are required to work with classmates or the public will sharpen their soft skills.

Tolley adds that a public speaking course is also crucial for developing the communication skills needed on the job.

Experts also point to the importance of experiences outside the classroom, such as volunteering, participating in student organizations, study abroad programs and internships. They note that such experiences expose students to different people and cultures, preparing them for a diverse workplace where they will be required to communicate with colleagues likely from different backgrounds.

Tolley has some simple advice for high school or college students looking to learn soft skills: “Find a job.” Even a job in the service industry, which Tolley says is much maligned, can help students develop soft skills early.

“People who have had a previous job – even if it’s working in high school part-time – these people tend to have acquired more soft skills, just through the hard knocks of having a job and having experiences And I think the same goes for those who have done internships, those who have had to work collaboratively with other people,” Tolley says.

When applying for an internship or a job, Tolley says it may be better to highlight soft skills in an interview rather than on a resume. He adds that listing the experiences they have had – in and out of class – will prompt interviewers to ask questions about what the student has learned, thus opening the door to explain how these training opportunities have developed the attributes desired by employers.

Experts say the more opportunities students have to learn soft skills, the better they can showcase them in a job interview.

“I think the more experiential learning opportunities they can take advantage of, the easier it will be for them to highlight and talk about the skills they’ve learned,” Hilton-Morrow says.

Comments are closed.