A common misconception among students across America is that good grades translate into a good job. While it may be partially true, it is not the ultimate factor, according to Microsoft.
The diagram above indicates that communication skills are the most important by far. However, when employers are searching for an employee, they will be looking for someone who has the best combination of skills that may or may not be listed above. This, of course, depends on the job in question.
According to Ronald Alsop, some highly sought-after soft skills (a.k.a. people skills) include communication skills, teamwork, ethics, past experience, and time management. Though these skills are broad and hard to assess, they are nonetheless vital to any job. Again, communication is the ultimate skill to master because it facilitates all the other soft skills. How are you supposed to demonstrate good teamwork if you can’t communicate efficiently?
Teamwork is a necessity. Employees must be able to work well not only with their peers, but also their managers and bosses. Similar ethics naturally improves teamwork, because like-minded people generally work efficiently together. Even if employees have different religious views, ethics allows for people to be respectful by agreeing to disagree. Past experience may look like a hard skill (technical skill), but in reality, it is more of a way to ensure and insure that an employer is hiring the right person. Past experience tells the employer how well the prospective employee fared in his or her previous job. Was that employee fired at the previous job because of insubordination, discrimination, or some other fatal flaw? That is what past work experience can tell. Last but not least, time management is an important skill, particularly among managers, because they need to keep projects on schedule as well as assign a reasonable amount of work to their employees.
Technical skills are more specialized by comparison to soft skills. Some of those skills employers look for are Microsoft Office proficiency, logistics, problem solving, mastery of mathematics, and actual knowledge of the field.
Technical skills are essentially professional qualifications. Technical skills are even more important than soft skills in a profession. Then why all this fuss about soft skills? The key here is supply and demand. There are a lot of people with technical skills, less people with soft skills, and even less with both. Employers are looking for people with both. While people that only know technical skills can get away with being obedient mindless drones, people that only know soft skills are doomed not knowing how to actually do the job. Can you imagine a basketball player that only knows how to talk? We call them sports journalists. Therefore, it is more important to have technical skills than soft skills, but by mastering both skill sets, the employee becomes a top prospect.
Alsop, R. (2004). How to get hired. Wall Street Journal, 8.
Carnevale, A. P. (1990). Workplace Basics: The Essential Skills Employers Want. ASTD Best Practices Series: Training for a Changing Work Force. Jossey-Bass Inc., Publishers, 350 Sansome Street, San Francisco, CA 94104.
Retrieved from: http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED319979.pdf
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“New Study Reveals Most Important Skills for Students.” News Center. Microsoft, 15 Oct. 2013. Web. 15 Nov. 2014.