The importance of job skills is an integral part of career success and has predominated conversation lately during many of my client sessions. In addition to education, experience and willingness to learn how business operates, adults transitioning into the workplace must possess certain soft skills in order to succeed. In modern times when technology has robbed many unsuspecting workers of much time spent interacting face-to-face, learning soft skills. In the era of texting, Snapchat and emoji’s correspondence skills have fallen out of fashion. There is a huge disconnect between what skills employers expect new hires to have and actual skills new hires possess.
I have found there are some common success denominators amongst current college students in non-professional jobs and recent college graduates entering the professional workforce for the first time. Young adults that work in the service industry- waiting on people with food, clothing, do-it-yourself projects, or bagging groceries have learned to work with many types of personalities, and wait on customers that display every conceivable emotional state of being. Working in the service industry teaches patience, how to filter thoughts & words, and how to read facial expressions/body language accurately. Those hard earned soft skills learned wearing a uniform often translate into success for those college graduates in the professional world.
I informally polled my supervision group and friends who are business owners, and found that the employers have noticed a negative shift in their employees skills set regarding basic organization of desk and work areas and correspondence etiquette. Employers invest thousands of dollars into hiring and training new employees, only to lose profits and momentum having to backtrack to basics that new hires should be able to demonstrate. Communication styles in business correspondence are far more exacting and proper than informal texting or Snapchat. Recent graduates should know customary times and modes of replies for various situations.
The adjustment period of recent college graduates to the workforce can be shorter and less painful for all involved if we counselors continue to reinforce by example and help clients develop holistic communication styles based on reading situations, body language and facial expressions. We need to continually encourage our clients to develop soft work skills in addition to learning their passion for their well-being and the greater good.
Elizabeth Curd is a counselor educator in the great mitten state of Michigan. She specializes in helping the Millennial and Generation X population, specifically: surviving adolescence, navigating adulthood, career development and organizational management. She works in East Lansing, MI.