April 22, 2019

What Are Soft Skills and Why do They Matter?

By B&SC Career Services Team

What Are Soft Skills and Why do They Matter?

By now you’ve probably heard the term soft skills, but do you really know what it means and why these skills are important to your career?

What are soft skills?

Soft skills are the interpersonal skills are personality traits, habits and attitudes that help you relate to other people and the world. They are also skills that make you a good employee. Sometimes, referred to as emotional intelligence or employability skills, soft skills are traits like critical thinking, team work, flexibility & adaptability, professionalism and positive attitude, among others. Understanding what these skills are and why they are important to employers can be a valuable piece of knowledge while looking for a job.

What soft skills do employers want?

Soft skills are of growing importance to employers because employees with soft skills can adapt to the quick pace of business, better compete globally and perform well in teams. At the Bryant & Stratton College Online Employability Summit, HR and hiring experts talked about what kind of employability skills they value in new hires.

“Soft skills are really important,” said Carleen Haas, Vice President of Talent Strategies at Humana.

Ms. Haas pointed to teamwork and passion as being two traits Humana often looks for in new employees.

“It’s important to us to hire people who are passionate about what they do. I’ve never worked a day in my life, because I love the work that I do.” Heather Tinguely, Program Manager of Global Talent Labs at Microsoft emphasized the soft skill of curiosity and adaptability. “Things change so rapidly, especially in the technology space, that somebody can come in with certain skills, say, ‘This is what I learned in college,’ and in two years, everything’s different. So we really look for people that come to us that we can tell just love to learn, and they love change and they love to adapt,” she said.

Why are soft skills important?

Soft skills are invaluable to employers in part because they help employees do their jobs better. But, these types of employability skills are also key because they are difficult to train. At the Employablity Summit, Rosemary Haefner, Global Vice President of CareerBuilder spoke about how many aspects of a job are trainable. She said that many employers might see soft skills as more valuable than trainable hard skills if a candidate is an overall fit with the culture of the company.

“An employer [might say] ‘maybe this person doesn’t have the hard skills, but I see that fit,'” said Ms. Haefner and because of strong soft skills that candidate might get hired over other applicants. Ms. Haas also mentioned that strong soft skills can help job seekers who have little experience in the workforce. “The things that we look for [in entry level hires] is that agility to learn, the curiosity and the sense of self-awareness,” said Ms. Haas.

The great thing about soft skills is you don’t have to wait until you are looking for a job or have been hired to start building them. Sharpening your soft skills is something you can start doing while in school. As you are working through your courses pay attention to what soft skills you are applying and work on the ones that are not as strong. It’ll pay off after graduation!

Bryant & Stratton College Online is dedicated to helping students with career management. Through outcomes-based education and career training, Bryant & Stratton College Online helps students learn the technical skills as well as the soft skills they’ll need to be successful in a career. If you are interested in learning more about the online degree programs at Bryant & Stratton College Online, please call 1.888.447.3528 to speak with an admissions representative.

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