What are Soft Skills and Why do They Matter?

Employers want students with soft skills – what does that mean?

Every week there’s a news article about the need for college students to have effective communication and interpersonal skills. But, what does that really mean? How do you acquire and then demonstrate these skills to employers?

Let’s focus on 5 key communication skills employer’s want:

  • Ability to carry on a conversation
  • Ask pertinent and interesting questions
  • Listen actively
  • Maintain eye contact
  • Write effectively

Once you know what employers are looking for, you can search out opportunities where you can practice these skills.

Ideas where you can practice:

  • Join a club or organization and volunteer in areas such as recruiting, new member events, or a speaker series where you have the chance to meet and introduce guest speakers
  • Take advantage of opportunities to meet 1:1 with your professors or TA’s to build relationships and practice these skills
  • Get a part-time job or volunteer for a non-profit where one of your responsibilities is engaging with customers

Everyone can acquire these skills – some of us just need more practice than others! How do you plan on growing and developing these soft skills?

Thinking About Your Future: What industries or markets do you like?

Now that you’ve decided where you want to live or the city you want to target, it’s time to think about the industries and markets you may want to work in.

Yes we know, it’s a big, complicated question!  Let’s break it down into small parts (peeling the onion as I say) so you can feel good about making some small decisions that still move you forward.

Ask yourself a couple of these questions and jot down your thoughts:

  • What products or services do I love?
  • Do I want to work for a company that sells products, services or both?
  • Do I want to work for a company that markets to consumers, businesses, or both?
  • What big markets do I like? Consumer products, financial services, clean energy…?
  • Are there any market verticals I don’t like at all?

It’s amazing how time spent on just a couple of questions can provide clarity and direction for your job search process.

To help, check out the industries hiring the most college grads here.

We’d love to hear what industry you want to work in!