Soft Skills: A Misnomer

Soft skills. At the intersection of outstanding customer service and an energized student workforce; there couldn’t be a greater misnomer.  Intended or not, the term “soft” in soft skills implies that the qualitative abilities associated with soft skills are easy to get/maintain while the quantitative abilities associated with hard skills are more difficult to master. The attributes associated with soft skills: contagious enthusiasm, responsible professionalism, problem-solving creativity and –most importantly—clear communication are by no means easily earned or mastered.

Moreover, soft skills are more important today than they ever have been. As humans, we tend to go the path of most efficiency when communicating—especially when in a professional environment. The desire to get as much information across in as little space as possible lends itself to more emails and texts than phone calls or face-to-face meetings. For our digitally native workforce, who have grown-up with all of these options on the communication table, Education at Work (EAW) makes an extra effort to coach the intangible basics associated with soft skills. Why? Because EAW believes that by focusing on these core skill-sets, we are empowering students to best serve our clients in the present and themselves in the future.

A three-fold approach is the best way coach up soft-skills with a collegiate workforce. First, we directly address the specific short fall. This could range anywhere from coaching the student in a real-time side-by-side or role-playing with them in a development session. Second, we guide students to embrace the best intangible qualities by embodying those qualities. If we want our students to be enthusiastic professionals then we create an enthusiastic, professional environment. Lastly, we consistently reinforce ideal soft skills of both EAW and our business partners. Every interaction is a reminder of our expectations and values.

By focusing on soft-skills, EAW creates a workforce that goes beyond the metrics. Those students achieve a harder task by having softer skills: solve a customer’s problem on the surface level and leave those customers with a deeper sense of satisfaction. It is this dynamic that will propel our students to success in their future careers and with our current clients.

Author:

Andrew Clark, Education at Work

Andy Clark | Program Manager, Education at Work

Andy, a Xavier University alumnus, has been a part of the EAW team since 2014. Before EAW, he spent the majority of his career in Japan in the education and recruitment industries. In addition to his passion for reducing student debt, his greatest attraction to working for EAW is developing the business leaders of tomorrow while providing excellent results today.

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