5 soft skills that matter to employers


Even the most polished resume won’t redeem the candidate that comes to the interview in sloppy jeans and never makes eye contact. And on the job, technical genius may not be enough to counteract an inability to work with anyone else on the team. We’re hearing it more and more: soft skills training matters.

Here are five soft skills key to job success, and easy tips to integrate them into your curriculum.

1. Positive Approach
The cliche that attitude determines your altitude still holds up. We all want to work with people who demonstrate positivity.

Make it part of your courses:

  • Open each class with a positive quote and discuss what it means
  • Use a story that exemplifies the power of a can-do attitude and discuss the implications
  • Ask students to list actions they can take to showcase a great attitude
  • Encourage students to think about three good things that happened at the end of each day. Everyone encounters challenges. Focusing on the positive helps in overcoming them.

2. Time and project management
Employees are increasingly being asked to take on multiple projects simultaneously. Students will be expected to be efficient and effective in these scenarios.

Make it part of your courses:

  • Ask students to organize a mock-interview or other event
  • Have students keep a calendar and daily to-do list
  • Divide a large project into several smaller projects with deadlines to show students how a task that seems overwhelming can be accomplished over time.

3. Communication
It’s always been integral to a job well done, but as workforces become more distributed, communication becomes more important.

Make it part of your courses:

  • Ask students to role-play a work scenario: How would they work with a challenging customer or client? Or present a potentially unpopular suggestion to coworkers?
  • Have the students watch part of a meeting, like a recording of a city council meeting. How do the attendees communicate with each other? Are the respectful? Condescending? What words and phrasing are most effective?
  • Make class participation part of the grade. Practice makes perfect!

4. Ownership and follow-through
Excellent employees meet deadlines and perform well under pressure. They take personal responsibility for getting work done, and can be counted on to do a good job.

Make it part of your courses:

  • Have students act as tutors or mentors.
  • Be strict about attendance, punctuality, and turning in assignments on time.
  • Let students make decisions on a project or assignment in class. Giving them the opportunity provides autonomy and enhances problem solving skills.

5. Collaboration
Teamwork is never obsolete.

Make it part of your courses:

  • Ask students to work together on a class newsletter or website.
  • Have students complete a small, fun project in class, like a LEGO set or a model car.
  • Who doesn’t like a party? Have the students plan an event and evaluate what went well and what they would do differently.

Want more ideas on adding soft skills to your curriculum, or even specific soft skills courses? We’d love to help out. Let’s talk.

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