How to develop soft skills in college (or anywhere at all)
by StudyMalaysia.com on December 11, 2020 | Top Stories
Every job will have a list of necessary requirements—from a paper qualification or professional licence to work experience. Even though these are extremely important, there is a set of attributes called soft skills that employers look for when hiring people for their organisation.
Soft skills are transferable and can help you excel at your job no matter what you do or where you work. Popular soft skills among employers currently include communication, adaptability, tech savviness, creativity, leadership, critical thinking, and emotional intelligence. If you think you don’t have a natural flair at some soft skills, don’t worry. There’s a good chance you can develop these skills now.
Here are a few ways to develop your range of soft skills that will give you an edge in the job market.
- Develop it at college. If you’re planning for further studies, choose a college or university course that emphasises on soft skill development in their curriculum. Some institutions offer optional soft skill courses or workshops at the weekend—make sure you take advantage of these opportunities.
- Make the most of your internship. Internships give you a taste of the working world. Observe how some people are good leaders or how others deliver captivating presentations. Maybe the person sitting next to you is a tech whiz. Ask to shadow the person or find out if he or she can mentor you in a particular skill.
- Get a part-time job while at university. Unlike internships, part-time jobs give you the chance to work in a variety of work environments and that means you’ll be able to build different soft skills. So even if you’re studying to be a data analyst, you can build team work customer service skills if you work part-time at a restaurant.
- Ask for feedback. Whether you’re giving a presentation, participating in group projects or undergoing an internship, ask for feedback and be open when getting it. This is a great way to gain awareness of your personal strengths and weaknesses.
- Take an online course. There’s a wide range of soft skill courses that you can take online, many of which are free. Communication, teamwork, project management, creative thinking, negotiation, presentation, project management, leadership, and more. Check them out at Coursera, Future Learn, edX, and Udemy.
- Learn from an expert. Some skills may require more work to build. Getting a coach or expert can help you learn more effectively and quickly.
- Practice the skill you’re developing. All the learning and self-reflection in the world won’t help you much if you don’t practise your new skill. Make a list of things you want to achieve. Practise with a friend, in the classroom or at work.
- Practise self-reflection. In order to discover what soft skills you can before from, reflect on the soft skills you’re already good at and be honest with yourself about the skills that you need to develop. If you’ve already embarked on developing a soft skill, reflect on what you’ve achieved and how the skill has helped you. If you feel like you’re stuck, self-reflection can help you uncover what you might need to do differently.
- Hear people out before you speak. Taking the time to hear someone out and being mindful is a great step towards developing good soft skills. This essentially helps one to be aware of how the other party is feeling before proceeding to take the conversation further
- Maintain good eye contact when speaking to someone. This really helps to build a good connection with the person one might be interacting with, while assuring them that they are being heard
- Have good writing skills. Having good writing skills will essentially help to improve one’s communication skills; hence, it’s important to always write in a clear and concise manner
- Monitor your body language and observe others. Be conscious of your body language when you interact with others. Ensure you send out positive vibes and do not come across as defensive or rude