Soft skills lacking in today’s workforce

Odessa Farrugia's Article on Times of Malta      

Every year, hundreds of students graduate and join the country’s workforce, yet most lack some of the basic skills that can help them distinguish themselves at the workplace. Odessa Farrugia, HR executive at Misco, says there’s a soft skills workshop for new graduates to help prepare them better for their first job.

Education has become very competitive and students constantly face mounting pressures to perform well in their exams. Yet once they graduate, they will find out that the working world is even more competitive and finding a job will not only depend on having a degree or the right qualifications but also on how capable you are to distinguish yourself.

In fact, when graduates and job seekers apply for a job, they tend to emphasise their hard skills to prove compatibility with the requirements of the job they are applying for. However, soft skills can be as important as hard skills to achieve success on the job. Truth be told, they are much more difficult to measure and define, but most times these skills are what define candidates and make them stand out from the rest.

Whatever the job, employees will constantly have to interact effectively with others, being their manager or supervisor, their colleagues, as well as clients and suppliers. Having the right soft skills to manage the role’s expectations while communicating effectively means that you have what it takes to survive on the job and this is what will make you succeed in your role while making your profile more attractive to prospective employers. Soft skills will give you a head start to deal with the pressures, especially as you settle in your new job.

Misco has been offering these soft skills workshops for many years and has trained thousands of individuals, coaching them on presentation and telephone skills, tips on writing business e-mails, thus helping them become more employable. We understand the frustration of employers who complain about many of their younger employees, especially new ones, fail to display some of the most basic skills at work.

Sending e-mails to the wrong recipients, not knowing how to greet someone on the phone, failing to structure a basic e-mail and not knowing how to greet guests or clients at a reception desk are some of the most common failings employers would like to address.

Aspects Misco will cover in its workshops include working in a team, writing business e-mails, face to face interaction with clients, time management, preparing for work meetings, managing a secretarial job, the dynamics of work relationships, adjusting to organisational change, effective communication and handling a job appraisal.

Most of the topics up for discussion are areas that are not tackled at school or at university but are skills usually acquired on the job, through experience. And while these topics will remain relevant, the most defining soft skills are being a great team player, flexibility and quick adapting, effective communication, resourcefulness, confidence, accepting feedback and creative thinking.

Some of these qualities are learnt, others are discovered along the way. Yet, displaying a good disposition to want to improve as a person on the job is a good start.

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