Developing Soft Skills

There are lakhs of graduates who pass out of universities every year. On the other hand, a lot of openings do not get filled in the industry. Surveys across various industries such as information technology, banking, finance, real estate and pharmacy have one common finding that only 4 to 5% of graduates are employable.

Given the huge pool of freshers, this is a dismal number and shows the wide gap between the education we are giving and what the industry expects. Off late classes have started mushrooming which promise to make students job ready, but they don’t really address the core issue.

Let us look at what the industry expects in a fresher to identify the improvement areas. The selection process for freshers typically includes an aptitude test which will evaluate the candidate’s logical, quantitative and verbal skills. This is followed by personal interviews with the business and HR teams. Companies now focus on hiring balanced individuals who score well both on IQ and EQ.

College students should start gearing themselves for their professional lives at the earliest. Developing soft skills is as important as good academics. Soft skills are related to an individual’s “EQ” (emotional intelligence quotient), they include interpersonal skills, critical thinking, people skills, team skills and problem solving.

Team work is a very valuable attribute which hiring managers look for. For many people, their work ends once they have finished the assigned task. But what differentiates a good team player is that he looks at the bigger picture, checks out if he can contribute in any way to the project. It could be helping out someone lagging at work or simply verifying some documentation.

But however small the effort be, it shows the signs of a good team player who is genuinely committed and ready to go the extra mile with a smile. Good communication skills are another necessity and unfortunately an area of concern for many. It is important to ask the right questions, similarly when you answer someone you should convey only the relevant information. In email communication, there are certain guidelines to be followed such as avoiding too much jargon, keeping sentences short and to the point, being formal and polite, not using smileys and any other abbreviations.

You need to display critical thinking and reasoning at work, as a fresher every day will offer new learning opportunities and new challenges. You may have some new ideas or think of a better way of doing something optimally, feel free to make suggestions in meeting. It is important to not get intimidated by seniors, your idea may not always be accepted but you get to know different opinions and at the end of the day it increases your knowledge base.

You need to think and work, however small the task at hand may be there may be a better and faster way of doing it. A group of college students who were working on a project in our company came up with an idea to streamline the processes required to acquire new hardware resources. The management team fine tuned this with a couple of brain storming sessions and it was then implemented. We have seen how developing soft skills increases a candidate’s employability and gives him a competitive edge over others.