Why Soft Skills are Essential to a Successful Career

Editor’s note: This post was written and submitted by Stephen Twum Barimah, Vice President of the Ohio Region and Vice President of the Alpha Zeta Delta Chapter at Cuyahoga Community College’s Metropolitan Campus.

In today’s academic environment, students are all taught basically the same way. Go to class, watch the professor go over the material, ask a few questions, and then take your homework home and teach yourself to assimilate and apply the concepts in the academic material.

What ends up happening is that students gain a ton of hard skills, which may get their foot in the door with an employer. However, people forget that once you’re on the other side, it is your soft skills that open additional doors to come. Simply put, your emotional intelligence, ethics, attitude, and communication skills are essential to being successful in your career.

Soft skills are increasingly becoming the hard skills of today’s workforce. It is not enough to be highly trained in conventional workplace skills. Things like emotional intelligence, personnel management, conflict resolution, communication skills and adaptability are becoming fundamental requirements for employees.

It is now widely accepted that developing the softer interpersonal techniques and relationship-building skills are extremely crucial, otherwise growth becomes difficult in an employee’s professional development. Organizations are not looking for mindless drones that they can bark orders at all day.

Rather, employers are looking for leaders that can inspire other employees into taking ownership of the company’s tenets and ideals — making them more productive and happier employees.

Five Star Competitive Edge, Phi Theta Kappa’s exclusive online professional development program, has been designed to practice and strengthen these soft skills. Tasks such as team building, problem solving, motivating, and delegating are all the much easier if you have well-developed soft skills.

Displaying a positive attitude and knowing how to get along with other people are crucial for success. The problem is, the importance of these skills is often undervalued — there is minimal or no training provided for them.

These skills alone help people communicate and collaborate effectively with others. The skills you gain in Phi Theta Kappa’s Competitive Edge program are more crucial than ever.

Completing the Five Star Competitive Edge program has helped me gained real-world experiences that are invaluable in today’s work force. I have become a better student, a more efficient mathematics tutor, and a more effective leader.

Initially, I was very hesitant about starting the course, but the program quickly allayed any fears. The first skill I learned from the Competitive Edge course was how to properly harness my innate creativity. The ability to think up new ideas while presenting them in an aesthetically pleasing way has become a skill that has made me an outstanding student among my peers. This skill has benefitted me not only in my academic career, but also in my job as a math tutor.

The second thing I learned from the course was the development of teamwork skills. Of all the skills, this is the one that has changed my life in the most positive way.

Before I participated in the Competitive Edge course, I was a bit of a lone wolf who liked to get things done all by myself. After I finished the course, I realized that no man is an island and that, to achieve great things, I would need the skills of people around me.

My attitude changed from “I can do it” to “WE can do it.” In other words, it takes the right kind of independence — as well as willingness to take responsibility — to make good things happen when trying to achieve a goal. This skill is invaluable at work, where I am required to team up with other tutors and teach mathematics to students from different walks of life.

Finally, the ability to critically analyze and solve problems is a skill that I developed from the professional program. The ability to solve real-world problems is crucial to thriving not only in the present, but also in the future. This is a necessary skill because in this ever-changing world, we will always be faced with different situations.

We must become flexible thinkers who can react effectively and efficiently to any potential issues. Therefore, having the ability to analyze, tackle and solve problems is an important skill that every student must learn.

Creativity, teamwork, and problem-solving are skills that are reinforced by the continuous development of soft skills. These skills act as a catalyst that transform any normal individual into an extraordinary person that can transform an organization from its root to its head.

Soft skills allow an individual to tap into their sense of purpose and realize their self-worth. I urge all members of Phi Theta Kappa to take advantage of the Five Star Competitive Edge program. Each one of these skills is an essential element for the organizational and your personal success.

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