Soft Skills and How to Acquire Them
In one of our earlier articles we discussed the importance of complimenting your IB studies with the development of new skills, more specifically soft skills. As a reminder, these constitute any skill or quality that one would more traditionally define as a personality trait or habit. In other words, these aren’t skills that can be acquired in a classroom setting, hence their name. Two common examples of soft skills that people often like to highlight on their resumes (and university applications) are interpersonal skills and communication skills.
But, if your school curriculum is not designed to incentivize your acquisition of soft skills, what can you do? Well, it turns out that students like you are given ample opportunities to improve your soft skills, even if you don’t realize it.
The following list includes four different ways you can develop your soft skills all while taking into consideration the different channels at your disposal:
- Become a team player
Schools typically give students access to numerous extracurricular activities. From sports to music bands, schools are full of opportunities for those students who want to explore new interests beyond what’s included in their academic curriculum. If this sounds like your school, don’t let the opportunity pass. Join the soccer team or the school orchestra. You won’t just be making new friends and developing new interests, but you will also be mastering an important soft skill: teamwork.
Teamwork is the key to success at any organization. By bringing people with different ideas together, the chances of tackling any particular problem effectively increase. This is also the result of combining people’s individual strengths and skill sets. Having the ability to be an effective team player is viewed very favorably by the job market and you would be wise to acquire this particular talent.
- Exit your comfort zone
We cannot expect to build up our skills by sticking to our old routine. If we have come to realize that we lack a particular skill or character trait that we believe to be important, then we need to understand that there is something about our current habits impeding our ability to change and improve. Be bold, change your habits, and try new things. This simple attitude change can go a long way in steering you in the right direction, potentially putting you on the path to unlocking new abilities you didn’t even know you could attain.
- Be observant
Learning new things about yourself is crucial for self-development, but learning new things from others is just as important. Whether you find yourself working on a group project or spending some time with your friends after school hours, don’t forget to pay attention to how others act and behave when faced with a new challenge or when asked to carry out a particular task. You will be surprised about how much you can learn about yourself and the world around you by just being a bit more observant.
- Take on a leadership role
As we just discussed a few moments ago, your involvement in school extracurricular activities such as sports can be especially rewarding in terms of the soft skills you can acquire as a team player. But why stop there? Your experience in any group activity can be twice as memorable and meaningful if you are willing to take on some additional responsibilities.
While it may seem challenging at first, being in a position of leadership will introduce you to a number of very valuable skills, including the ability to evaluate the individual strengths of team members, prioritize, and make decisions with the potential of turning the tide in your favor.
So there you have it. You don’t have to go out of your way to acquire new skills. We have highlighted some of the most sought-after soft skills in the job market today, and they are all within your reach. So, what are you waiting for? Remember, career success can’t be attained simply by holding onto a strong academic record. You have to get out there and expand your skill set.
NTK Education Consulting Team