Today, it seems like every second millennial I talk to is obsessed with enhancing their resume to land their “dream job”. For most, that dream job consists of being in a position of leadership, and making a good amount of money - enough to support their desires of traveling, seeing the world, and discovering oneself. To reach that goal, to stand out in what is becoming an increasingly competitive playing field, a lot of youngsters are hoarding degrees and certifications, to showcase an impressive array of technical skills on their resumes. Some go the route of pursuing extra-curricular qualifications like CPR and Yoga Instructor certifications, as these tend to highlight their diverse interests and skills. Others might pursue the more traditional route of getting an undergraduate degree, and then a masters, and then maybe another. Considering that a lot of employers believe there is a huge skill gap in the youth, this doesn’t come as shocking. Whatever the case maybe, one thing seems clear - being mediocre isn’t enough anymore. A specialized knowledge and the willingness to go the extra mile to stand out from the crowd are seemingly necessary to get one’s foot in the career door.
While I’m not denying the importance of technical skill, the recent focus on hard skills begs the question of soft skills in today’s world. As the world becomes more digitized, with millennials often working remotely rather than in an office setting, the emphasis on personal interactions at work seems to be decreasing. With this in mind, are soft skills as valuable as they once were? My argument is yes, soft skills do matter, and will continue to matter even as the world becomes more connected and less personal. Having soft skills is an absolute must to those who are chasing the leadership position in their fields.
If you’re wondering what I mean by soft skills, they are simply the less tangible qualities we all possess. This involves our personality, our strengths and weaknesses and our attitude. For instance, interpersonal communication, critical thinking, attentive listening etc. are all encompassed within the soft skills umbrella. These are skills we learn through experiences, rather than in a classroom. So why are they important? Well, no matter the level of technical competency, soft skills are what enable us to utilize hard skills and complete our jobs effectively and efficiently. Think about it; is being a doctor of any use if absolutely no one can relate to you enough to have a conversation with you? Of course not, because you probably won't get any patients that way. This is true of any profession - you need to have certain soft skills to succeed.
In this way, to become a leader, it is vital for potential job seekers to be able to communicate so as to be respected within the workplace. Being adaptable to changing environments and being able to transplant skills gained from one area to other are also great traits to have as businesses become more technology-oriented. Now I’m not saying that soft skills alone will land you your ideal job. But as you chase different degrees and certifications, gaining all sorts of technical and specialized knowledge, try and devote some time to enhancing your soft skills through immersing yourself within a stimulating environment, and interacting with different people. Learn by watching and doing, and take some time to step out of your comfort zone. Often, the times you challenge yourself are when your soft skills will be honed the most, forcing you to adapt, think creatively or speak out in a way you haven’t before. While it pays to have a stellar CV, remember that it’s equally important to be human, and along with technical knowledge that matters have soft skills that do too!