SOFT SKILLS: Do You Have It In You ?!!
Do you know what makes a job applicant an ideal candidate. Of course, top candidates need to have the requisite qualification and relevant work experience, but it’s their soft skills that make them a perfect choice for the recruiters. If you don't believe it, this blog is exclusively for you. Read On !
“The obsession with degrees has to stop. The lure of a degree at any cost - irrespective of whether its possession would lead to jobs and increase employability - needs to be replaced by the mindset of acquiring a set of skills that would enable the person to find jobs or be gainfully self employed.”
~ National Skill Development Corporation
Well Said NSDC (National Skill Development Corporation) ! So I believe it would be pretty clear in our heads as of now, why I distanced myself from Mr. Minister’s remark on English (read my previous blog ENGLISH VINGLSIH, ENGLISH VINGLISH II). After going through all the data crunching along with hard core facts and figures on ‘English Is A Must’, It’s time to move ahead on our ‘Communication & Soft Skills’ path. Now one may wonder why I chose to use two different terms (i) Communication (ii) Soft Skills. Yes, It’s true that communication is itself a soft skill i.e. language skill. OK. I make that clear. This is on purpose. This is with the point to put some extra emphasis on ‘communication’ part. While the other soft skills (e.g. Leadership and Team Building, Confidence, Attitude et al) do hold their own importance, but Communication tops them all. You don’t believe that?!! Fine, have a look at the Top Ten Qualities, a Recruiter/ Selector/ Employer/ Organisation/ HR manager looks for in each and every prospective candidate. Here it goes,
Do you notice where your technical knowledge stands in the list?
Typically this is what makes an ideal job candidate. Of course, top candidates need to have the requisite qualification and relevant work experience, but it’s their soft skills that make them perfect. In terms of the skills that differentiate candidates, employers responding to NACE’s Job Outlook 2013 say they want good communicators who can make decisions and solve problems while working effectively as part of a team. As per Elizabeth Gajendran, principal of London School of Speech, “Some of these employees with degrees from IITs/IIMs come on their own volition to polish their English speaking skills. This is after they undergo the in-house soft skills programmes at their companies." Keeping the employability of Indian students in mind, Terry Endsor, Head HR, Asia Pacific City, asserts, “India is one of the few countries where many companies come to recruit due to education level, English-speaking ability, drive and motivation. I find that Indians are highly educated…. Where they need to improve is in some of the soft skills.”
|I find that Indians are highly educated…. Where they need to improve is in some of the soft skills.|
While Nitin Paranjpe, CEO, HUL does opine almost the same when he says, “Focus on building yourself. Develop your deep skills, functional expertise and domain knowledge. You cannot be shallow in the space you work in and aspire to senior leadership. At all times, do what you are required to do to the best of your ability. Soft Skills are valuable. Don’t under-invest in building soft skills. People assume knowing theories or models, or having better analytical capabilities, are things to get ahead. These are important, but they’re not all. Soft skills, understanding how to work with people and empathy are all very important qualities to get ahead." And another corporate heavyweight Charles Champion, Executive Vice President (Engineering), Airbus; also accentuates the same concern, “I don’t know everything, you don’t know everything in our jobs, so how can we succeed and help deliver to the target is by working as a team, by understanding who can support me, who has the knowledge by putting together various angles, diversities, various methods and knowledge. With innovations, one of the biggest challenges today is working as a team in a diverse atmosphere. One must go beyond the idea and think how one can make that happen. We encourage students to learn how to communicate, sell, explain and convince people about a particular innovation. No doubt, team spirit and ability to express matter a lot.”
|Soft Skills are valuable. Don’t under-invest in building soft skills.|
Yes, I did my own share of research on the subject and this effort led me to discover an interesting piece of S.W.A.T. Analysis of our would-be-employed-Indian youth. Here is the same piece of jigsaw-puzzle I made with my research.
STRENGTH: "In terms of statistics, I guess the people coming from tier 2 or tier 3 colleges are likely to stay longer. But certainly there would be some skill gaps. But I don't think it is so much that we cannot bridge it."
~ Ramesh Ranjan, VP - HR Operations, SCHNEIDER ELECTRIC INDIA
WEAKNESS: "The challenge is how one develops one’s (students') soft skills, specially the communication part. And I'm sure that even in other IT jobs too, communication is a key criterion. And you will find that for students coming from tier 2 and tier 3 cities communication is a huge challenge. Not every company can invest huge sums of money or time to train students in this aspect."
~ James Job, VP - Talent Acquisition, ADITYA BIRLA MINACS
Opportunity: "When we hire, say from the IIMs for our B-School Program, we have noticed that attrition rates are very high, because the aspirations these graduates have from an organisation, are totally different. These graduates are more focused on posh jobs and don't really want to get their hands dirty on the field."
~ Linda Ravindran, Head - Talent Acquisition, NOKIA
THREAT: "The biggest challenge for us is the knowledge versus the marks aspect. You go to campuses, you look at their marks, and it doesn't reflect in anyway what they know. Scores and knowledge are two different things. This is happening because students in India do not do enough stuff outside of attending class."
~ Aparna Ballakur, Chief People Officer, FLIPCART.COM
|The challenge is how one develops one’s (students') soft skills, specially the communication part.|
Even an answer by Pervin Malhotra to some career query clearly depicts the importance of soft skills, “Jack Welch, the legendary former CEO of GE, once advised MIT grads, ‘Don’t just learn. Do network with as many people as possible.’ Indian B-schools and Technical Institutes have followed this advice by incorporating soft skills in their curriculum. In addition to business textbooks and case studies, the emphasis is now on enhancing the student’s communication skills, creativity, diplomacy, flexibility, leadership, team building and listening skills. This is also done through structured group activities. Most institutions offer compulsory courses like PDP, Career Skills, Organisational Behaviour, which cover a range of issues at the individual, interpersonal and organisational levels. At the same time, they also offer electives like managerial counselling, interpersonal skills, etc.”
|“We are hired for our technical skills, but fired for the lack of soft skills.”|
As a matter of fact, Soft Skills in today's world hold utmost importance. And finally, I would wind up this blog post on Soft Skills by quoting Shiv Khera, Founder of QUALIFIED LEARNING SYSTEMS INC. USA and a renowned motivational speaker,
“We are hired for our technical skills, but fired for the lack of soft skills.”
[...And yes, here also, we are talking about Communication and Soft Skills both; if any confusion or doubt, do read the blog again.]