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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?

3 Great Skills To Build This Summer!

Summer is the perfect time to work on skills that will help to fulfill your career goals. Below we have highlighted three areas that you can easily brush up on during the downtime of summer. We even included free resources to help you get started. Good luck!

  1. Network!

Talk to your neighbor who has a cool job. Strike up a conversation with a stranger in an elevator. Ask your parents if you can tag along to work. You never know where a conversation or connection can lead you. It might result in your next big break!

Want to craft a 30 second intro for opportunities like this? Learn how here. Learning your 30-second intro is very important, but remember, you’re not a robot! Make it personal too, and don’t just talk about yourself. Always remember to ask questions!

  1. Excel. Learn it. Love it. Live it.

You’re probably tired of hearing people tell you this, but Excel really is as important as everyone says it is! I don’t just mean learning how to put formulas into excel, but really understanding every function, and being able to make a presentation in any format. Take your summer to develop and refine those excel skills. The best part, it is totally free! http://chandoo.org

  1. Improve Your Public Speaking Skills

Hard skills are important, but learning how to speak in public is essential for long-term success! Whether it is winning over a recruiter in an interview, or pitching an idea that could win over the president of your company, you need to be able to speak in public. Here is a quick, painless, and free way to touch up on those speaking skills.