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How to Acquire Soft Skills and Their Importance in the Labour Market



Soft skills are part of the most important things in life, this makes employers look out for it in individuals that seek jobs. You must have heard about soft skills or maybe not. It was introduced in a blog post in the personal development series, read it here.

What are soft skills?

According to Investopedia, soft skills are “character traits and interpersonal skills that characterize a person’s relationship with other people”. It simply means the skills you use to relate with people, thrive in a social environment, get along with your coworkers at work.

Soft skills are also called transferable skills. This implies you can use them in any setting, unlike hard skills that can only be applied in the same field or related i.e use of tech skills in the tech field. Furthermore, soft skills can be learned, practiced and demonstrated. Though, most people think soft skills are harder to learn compared to hard skills.

Credit: Image by Melissa Ling on The Balance. Retrieved from thebalancecareers.com. Image may be subject to copyright.

Types of Soft Skills

  • Leadership skills
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Communication skills
  • Team-work
  • Self-motivation
  • Creativity
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Adaptability

How to Acquire Soft Skills

Soft skills are acquired through live demonstrations, that is, it has to be experienced. Most times, for students, it is learned via extracurricular activities such as being an active member of association (s). Note the emphasis on “active”, being active means participation across all levels of the association, sometimes vying and contesting for posts. Examples of associations found in several universities across Nigerian universities are departmental and faculty associations, AIESEC, JCI, ANUNSA, Red cross society e.t.c. This hones skills like leadership, communication, ability to work in teams. This is necessary because you will have to communicate with different individuals with different perspectives on life. It can also be acquired through volunteering. We talked about volunteering in a previous article, read it here.

You can search for numerous resources on soft skills, get books on the skills you want to develop i.e books on communication, leadership. Podcasts are also available. There are courses on online learning platforms such as edX, Coursera that teaches soft skills. Make sure you practice what you learn because learning without practicing is ineffective. You can try it out in your immediate environment, listen more, talk more, offer helping hand, show up early at an engagement.

Furthermore, internships are important either paid or unpaid. Internships expose you to the real-world work settings, provide an enabling environment to improve on your hard and soft skills.

Importance of Soft Skills

Soft skills help you get ahead in life. Employers place priority on soft skills over hard skills. Hard skills get you into the workplace but soft skills make you stay, your ability to listen to corrections (no one wants someone they can’t correct), be creative, communicate, get along with others, be resilient, work with others (teamwork) and be self-motivated (self-motivation in the sense that no one has to nudge you to do the right thing at the right time, we are now in a fast-paced world, no one has time to motivate anyone, you have to do it yourself) goes a long way.


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