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Soft Skills for Personality Development
Special Contribution
By Shalini Asrani
Talking Heads

Chun-so Young did her M Tech in Information Technology. But she still could not get the job of her choice during campus recruitment.

Reason: Blame it on her soft skills. Or rather the lack of them. These include communication, listening, negotiation, etiquette, language skills etc. Hence, she could not compete with her fellow students who got better jobs.

What are soft skills?

Employers are not just interested in formal qualifications when they're recruiting somebody for a job! You may still be in education, or only recently have left school or college, but there's actually a lot you can do during this time that can help you get a job. Think about your spare time activities. Having a part-time job, babysitting, being a member of a club: all these things will have helped you develop the kind of skills that employers are looking for - such as organizing, planning, dealing with other people.

These qualities are often called Soft Skills or Core Skills. A skill is anything you can learn to do competently, a developed aptitude or ability. The Core Skills are: Problem Solving, Communication, Numeracy, Information Technology, Working with Others. Soft skills refer to the cluster of personality traits, social graces, facility with language, personal habits, friendliness, and optimism that mark people to varying degrees. Soft skills complement hard skills, which are the technical requirements of a job.

Soft skills can also be an important part of the success of an organization. Organizations, particularly those frequently dealing with customers face-to-face, are generally more prosperous if they train their staff to use these skills. For this reason, soft skills are increasingly sought out by employers in addition to standard qualifications.

Personal Qualities: Responsibility, self-esteem, sociability, self-management, integrity/honesty.

Interpersonal Skills Participates as a member of the Team, Teaches others, Serves Client / Customers, Exercises Leadership, Negotiates, Works with cultural diversity

The Workforce Profile defines about 60 "soft skills," which employers seek. They are applicable to any field of work, according to the study, and the "personal traits and skills that employers state are the most important when selecting employees for jobs of any type."

So how do you know which skills you have?

You are an individual and you bring your own special skills and qualities to any job. These factors are more difficult to measure, so you might miss them out from a CV or application form. Thinking about these skills under the following headings may help you to see how you can impress an employer. Try using these headings to identify your skills:

Verbal Communication Skills - Talking to/dealing with people- e.g. using the telephone, answering enquiries, selling, organizing people, teaching ability to talk to people - such as elderly people or those in distress, dealing with complaints, explaining things, listening to people, understanding their difficulties and counseling

Written Communication Skills- e.g. writing minutes, reading, writing or checking reports and writing letters

Skills dealing with Paperwork and Numbers- e.g. keeping or organizing records and files, doing accounts, budgeting, dealing with letters, typing or keyboard skills and using measurements

Problem solving skills- e.g. coming up with good ideas, planning & organizing things and finding solutions to problems

Practical and Mechanical Skills- e.g. using your hands, using tools, fixing or repairing things, cooking, woodworking, sewing, building things, maintaining machines, handicrafts

Information Technology Skills- e.g. using office application packages - word processing, spreadsheets, databases; Internet skills - doing searches, using e-mail; Advanced computer skills - programming, hardware/software support

Transferable Skills- While in the strictest sense it could be true that you have no experience of that particular kind of work, if you stop and think about it there may well be tasks and skills involved in the job that you have done in the past, but in a different context. Skills you have learnt and developed in one situation that you could use in a different situation are referred to as 'Transferable Skills'

Personality- Your personality, as well as your skills, will lead you to enjoy, be good at and be suitable for some jobs more than others. You need to think about the characteristics that make up your personality, your likes, the way you are, act and react.

Additional Skills- e.g. driving, languages and first-aid. You will find that you have skills in some of these areas, but not necessarily in all.

How to improve your soft skills

Soft skills play a vital role for professional success; they help one to excel in the workplace and their importance cannot be denied in this age of information and knowledge. Good soft skills — which are in fact scarce — in the highly competitive corporate world, will help you stand out in a milieu of routine job seekers with mediocre skills and talent. The result of the survey Smyth County Industry Council, a governing body based in the US, was the people most likely to be hired for available jobs have what employers call "soft skills." The most common traits, mentioned by virtually every employer, were: ~ Positive work ethic, Good attitude, Desire to learn and be trained.

Be your own trainer!

While organizations are definitely investing in augmenting their staff's people skills, here are some inputs for professionals and students who would like to initiate the process themselves: i. Be a part of team activities ii. Ask family members or close friends to write down your best and worst traits iii. How well do you manage your time? iv. Introspect on how you react to feedback. v. How good are you at critiquing? vi. Live consciously

An organization is manned by people; therefore soft skills are all about how you deal with people and present yourself.

Though it may be easier said than done, soft skills can be enhanced simply by being aware of oneself and living consciously.

References

www.rediff.com/getahead/2007/jan/09soft.htm - 27k

www.careers-scotland.org.uk/Education/Skills
Development/CoreSoftSkills.asp - 21k

www.cnr.berkeley.edu/ucce50/ag-labor/7labor/b003.htm - 8k

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soft_skills"

www.hinduonnet.com/thehindu/jobs/0105/05230032.htm - 11k

By Shalini Asrani
Extension Education Specialist
Department of Extension Education
College of Home Sciences
CCS Haryana Agricultural University, Hisar -125 004 (Haryana) India



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The above writer, Dr. Shalini Asrani, serves as assistant professor at the Department of Home Science Extension and Communication Management of CSK Himachal Pradesh Agriculture University in Palampur, India. She contributes her research papers and articles to world's newspapers as well as to academic journals. She can be reached at shaliniasrani@gmail.com

 

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