You'll need people skills to land the job you want 

Education Guide


Navigating the transition between high school or college and your first real job can be an adventure, and also a time of self-reflection and curiosity.

Usually, people are so focused on learning technology and other marketable skills and writing the perfect résumé that they lose sight of what employers really want. Of course, an employer will be looking for certain abilities, called hard skills, such as training in information technology, a certification in accounting, the ability to operate a certain machine, etc.

Most of the time, though, the people competing for a specific job opening have similar skill sets. In that case, people skills, often referred to as soft skills, can really set someone apart.

According to CareersNZ, the seven essential employability skills are: positive attitude, communication, teamwork, self-management, willingness to learn, thinking skills and resilience. Adding as many of them to your personal toolbox as possible makes for a lifelong career boost.

If this sounds a bit too psychological, consider these statistics from Select International: 75 percent of employers they surveyed said "graduates lack adequate innovation and diversity skills," and 67 percent of human resource managers said they would hire a candidate "with strong soft skills even if hard skills were weak."

That shows an enormous shift in hiring mentality from one or two generations ago.

Many jobs from the recent past have been outsourced to companies overseas that charge less for their labor. Other jobs in the U.S. have been replaced by robots or new technology, which means that much of the time the people who keep their jobs are the ones who can't be replaced because they have the necessary and in-demand soft skills, according to The Center for Work Ethic Development.

These particular employees build interpersonal relationships with their bosses, colleagues, clients and vendors, making themselves harder to replace and creating a more efficient and more pleasant work environment. Typically, people get far more accomplished working in harmony than when they're constantly battling or stonewalling.

But there are more areas than the aforementioned seven in which to improve your emotional intelligence. Omnia's website states that their version of the seven soft skills to be successful include: leadership skills, teamwork, communication skills, problem-solving skills, work ethic, flexibility/adaptability and interpersonal skills. Two of those coincide with the first list — so you know to especially focus on those. Finally, the Bring Your A Game curriculum teaches seven A's of success: attitude, appearance, acceptance, attendance, ambition, accountability and appreciation.

Today's labor market looks totally different than what your grandparents and parents faced when they launched their careers. Rapid advances in technology have changed the requirements for landing, and especially keeping, a job.

Just showing up and knowing how to type or run a machine doesn't work anymore. Employees want to hire people who are not only reliable, but also friendly, happy, collaborative and helpful. So here's to improving on what you already have and learning new soft skills. Best wishes to you in your job search and career!

Becca Tonn is the former associate editor of the Colorado Springs Business Journal and now the Pikes Peak Workforce Center's communications manager. She has more than 12 years of experience in communications, journalism and public relations. For info about PPWFC's free career services and soft skills training for young adults, call 667-3860 or email beccatonn@elpasoco.com.


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