Soft Skills: The Powerful Skills That Will Get You A Job

One in three skills required by employers today is a soft skill.

“Works well with others” may be a phrase reminiscent of your grade-school report card, but did you know it’s also an essential skill professionals need to succeed in business? Soft skills—a blend of interpersonal savvy, communication skills, and social intelligence—are in high demand by employers today, according to a Burning Glass Technologies analysis of millions of jobs across the United States.

While most agree they’re important, soft skills often get sold short—the word “soft” suggests that they are easy. According to James Winebrake, PhD, and Dean of Rochester Institute of Technology’s College of Liberal Arts, “These so-called ‘soft skills’ in fact are some of the most challenging skills that people need to master. These skills allow people to work effectively in teams, to communicate well, and to think in ways that lead to innovation and creativity.”

This may be why employers are having a hard time finding employees with soft skills. Research shows that there is a wide skill gap in this area in the workplace. Although these skills account for approximately one-third of all requested in U.S. job postings, the Education Advisory Board (EAB) reports that employers are increasingly concerned about professionals’ skill gaps specifically in planning, communication, and critical thinking.

Soft skills = power skills

Soft skills have been identified as such game-changing competencies that many refer to them as “power skills.” Employers have found their organizations fall short of goals when employees can’t succinctly communicate ideas, manage time, collaborate with colleagues, or lead a team. Even in technical fields like IT, healthcare, and engineering, more than a quarter of all skill requirements are for soft skills (Burning Glass).

The employees who possess these power skills have the competitive edge, and are empowered to positively influence their organization and their own careers. Research proves that honing your soft skills also pays off financially. According to Burning Glass, jobs with high social skill requirements have experienced greater wage growth than others.

The RITx Soft Skills Professional Certificate program is a series of six offerings designed to teach the essential soft skills employers value most, from communication fundamentals and teamwork to advancing critical thinking—all game changers for career growth.

“Soft skills are power skills that you can never have too much practice with,” says Andrea Hickerson, director of RIT’s School of Communication and associate professor, who is teaching two of the Soft Skills offerings. “With this new program, we can help people hone these difference-makers that are necessary for promotions and management-level positions.”

Future-proof your skills.

The RITx Soft Skills Professional Certificate program meets a need in the marketplace to not only fill a gap that employers have identified, but to prepare today’s workers for tomorrow’s challenges.

In his inaugural address as President of RIT, Dr. David Munson cited research from the World Economic Forum, reporting that by 2020 the critical skills needed to prepare for challenges yet unidentified are not specialized or technical skills, but instead are skills that include complex problem-solving, critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and emotional intelligence.

The forum recommends and RIT endorses building a broad multidisciplinary skill set where creativity is exercised at every turn. To that end, RIT and edX will continue to collaborate to create universally available programs recognized by employers and universities to teach well-rounded, inter-disciplinary skill sets often overlooked in specialized learning.

If your employer was filling out a traditional report card for you, how well do you think you’d do in the “works well with others” category? Build your skills to meet the requirements of today’s marketplace and tomorrow’s opportunities. Enroll in the Soft Skills Professional Certificate Program today!

 

The first offering, Business Communication, starts November 28.

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Thérèse Hannigan

About Thérèse Hannigan

Director, RIT Online