The power of soft skills
The American education system is full of diverse subjects to provide us with a solid foundation of knowledge in preparation for life as adults, but are we still missing other basic fundamentals needed for success? Skill sets can be categorized as soft and hard. Hard skills like learning the alphabet or how to tie your shoes are taught and learned in school. Soft skills are more complex because they must be developed over time. Some examples of soft skills are effective communication, teamwork, team-building, and time management. Thankfully, you can build a soft skill set no matter how young or old you are. I believe each student should take a closer look into soft skills training to help them develop into better leaders of tomorrow.
Returning to college at a later age helped me understand the importance of soft skills because I experienced the workforce before college. Before I even realized they had a name, I knew that I was not a strong team-builder and I was not an effective communicator. I struggled to excel in my job because I was not diversely skilled in some of the most important soft skills such as time management, organization, leadership, and communication.
It was not until I was referred to 16personalities.com by a career coach in college that I realized I could develop these abilities. I also did not realize that they had a name and there is a substantial amount of research performed by professionals to emphasize the importance of the skill set in higher-level employment. Having a solid resume may lead you to the interview, but soft skills can land you the job with or without an award-winning resume.
The website offers a free personality test that produces a lengthy report on the individual’s talents, strengths, weaknesses, and potential areas for improvement. It is comparable to the Myers-Briggs test. The report showed that I have what is called an ENTP personality, or “the debater.” The analysis was scarily accurate in all areas. It listed skills that I am strong in and the ones that I should work on developing. The breakdown of why I should consider building my soft skill set was an eye-opener. If I neglected to develop soft skills, I would not become the best manager or leader that I can be in the future.
During the next year, I decided to strive each day to build these skills by utilizing any resource I had available. It started out with a few training webinars that inspired me to think critically. Then I started exposing myself to situations that would require me to face these challenges head on. For example, I founded a student union in my region to help learn how to build a team and effectively communicate. Time management became a priority because I had to carefully ensure time to build the team and keep up with my academics.
Instruction and academic rigor can teach hard skills such as how to tie your shoes or how to perform multiplication, while soft skills take time and effort to learn. The first step to learning soft skills is to acknowledge their importance. Understanding your individual strengths and weaknesses can help you narrow down which ones need to be developed the most and why. No matter how young or old you are, building soft skills can begin at any age. I am always learning because learning is a journey and not a destination.
Amanda Condon is a junior studying emergency management administration at Arkansas Tech University. She is a current Pearson Student Adviser as well as a 1,000 Dreams Fund Student Adviser for 2016-2017. Condon aspires to become the next Administrator of FEMA and exemplifies the utmost passion for disaster relief.
She enjoys a wide variety of outdoor activities with her three children such as hiking, kayaking, mountain climbing, and geocaching. Condon upholds Pearson’s mission of always learning by dedicating her time teaching others lessons that have helped her achieve her life goals.
After a successful stint at her local community college, Condon transformed herself from an unemployed single parent into an entrepreneur and motivational speaker in less than two years. By utilizing scholarship programs, Condon has used financial aid and scholarships to fund her education in full.
Condon’s ambitious personality resonates inside in the classroom and throughout her community. She possesses grit and passion for the success of adult learners and coaches students of all ages about the benefits of resource management, volunteerism, scholarships, and philanthropy.
Condon is the Facebook administrator for Scholarship Hot Spot, a group of over 900 students nationwide dedicated to helping each other find and apply for scholarship opportunities. Condon enjoys blogging her experiences and insights on her personal website at www.amandacondon.com. Condon says she is on a mission to make a difference in the world by teaching others how to open doors of possibilities.