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The Soft Skills that students need in order to get the job


The Soft Skills that students need in order to get the job

Guest article by Emma Sue Prince


Your parents have failed you. If you’re a young European undergraduate, then your parents probably won’t have taught you skills like being resilient and adaptable because these kinds of skills were not the survival skills that they are today.


The world of work you are entering is completely different from that of your parents. They won’t necessarily know how best to help you because work today no longer follows a predictable path and your parents are likely having to focus on their own uncertain work situations and the fact they are will be living for longer on less.


Bleak? Far from it. The world today presents countless opportunities for new thinking, entrepreneurship, finding the work you are truly suited for and love. You are probably applying for work now, going after jobs and opportunities, being rejected too. That’s ok and you need to get used to rejection – the more risks you take, the more rejection you’ll experience but risk-taking is going to have to become something you happily embrace.


So what crucial soft skills do you need – those under-taught skills that will make the difference between getting and keeping that job, relationship, opportunity and your sense of humour (you’ll need that too!)


Time management – far more to do with managing yourself rather than time. If success depends on effective action, then that action is your ability to focus your attention where it’s needed most and not responding solely on how you feel in the moment. This is going to be challenging. You have multiple demands and many distractions. And you’re going to be very used to shifting your focus – you do it all the time flitting from Facebook to work project to text to web surfing in a matter of minutes. Being "busy” doesn’t equal to being productive and effective!


Communication  Think about how you come across to others. Empathy is a key skill you need to actively nurture both on and off-line. Your presentation skills must be meticulous for any interview – that’s a threshold requirement. You need confidence to project yourself, speak honestly about your strengths and weaknesses and communicate with passion and integrity.


Networking – how good are you at this skill? We live in a world dominated by constant information exchange and daily innovation. Your relationships are your only competitive advantage and they create the channel through which ideas and information flow, where new ideas are shared, discussed and perfected. If you can cultivate a large relationship network you will meet the right people, find that job, build a business, learn about new trends and spread ideas.


Writing – A lost skill and one that might not have been taught properly in the first place. Shocking but true. You absolutely have to be able to write proficiently so that others can understand you. Because they, in turn, are being bombarded with stuff! Writing well goes for everything from your emails to cover letters to your CV. Write clearly, directly and intelligently. Use your writing skills to take useful notes – one of the most productive things you can do because they'll help you remember what you see, hear or read when you’re learning something new or trying to remember something specific.


Optimism – You may think that how you act is a product of how you are feeling but actually you will find that you can change the way you are feeling by how you act. A great attitude always leads to great experiences. And you’re going to need that great attitude no matter what life throws at you. You’ve got to be able to generate and radiate good will to maintain a competitive edge. Optimism can be learned.


Critical Thinking – every day you’re bombarded with vast amounts of rapidly changing information. You need to be able to evaluate it, sort the valuable from the trivial, analyse its relevance and meaning and relate it to other information. You need to be able to do this fast. This is raw material for success today! Without this ability and awareness of thinking much more sharply, you’ll be left behind. You’ve got to be able to challenge assumptions, look at things from lots of different angles, think outside the box, collaborate with others and be solutions-focused.

The soft skills you now need are closely connected with innate core abilities and qualities that you already have. You just need to strengthen and bring these out.


Get The Advantage – a new book which redefines soft skills as inner resources and competences.


The Advantage by Emma Sue Prince is published by Pearson, available now, priced £12.99. Find out more at