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Learning So-Called Soft Skills Could Tip the Scales In Your Favor For a Job

Woman looking at a man

Millions of students each year face an American job market that is as competitive as it is evolving. A recent Person survey shows that these employment challenges are wearing a lot of folks down: an incredible 41-percent of people are pessimistic about the future of employment.

Job applicants have to keep ahead of the challenges with new skills and new learning. That same Pearson survey finds that 65-percent of today's 12-year-olds will have jobs that don't yet exist.

Future Jobs

“The challenge goes beyond just giving someone the skills to get a job,” said Leah Jewell, Pearson's Managing Director of Workforce Readiness and Higher Education. “Employability extends from prep to getting and keeping a job. It encompasses basic skills, technical skills, soft skills, and workplace skills. I don’t believe most schools think about teaching those soft skills, things like personal and sociability and other employability skills.”

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Certain attributes are critical in increasing long-term employability

Hard skills are the ones that are teachable, like computer programming, foreign language proficiency, or SEO marketing. These are the abilities that are easily quantifiable for recruiters.

Soft skills are less measurable. Sometimes referred to as "people skills" or "interpersonal skills," these are the things that complement hard skills. They're also more valuable to recruiters. Applicants who are proficient in these skills are sought after because they're much harder to teach—and they make individuals more enjoyable to work with.

Here are seven "soft skills" employers are looking for in potential hires:

1. Adaptability - responding well to challenges will help you grow personally and profressionally

2. Resilience - learning from experience and boldly attacking subsequent challenges

3. Optimism - being the most poistive person in any meeting - generate good energy and good will

4. Integrity - being trustworthy, honest, and authentic

5. Critical thinking - challenging assumptions and finding new and bold solutions

6. Proactivity - thinking and acting ahead

7. Empathy - respecting and nurturing all relationships with co-workers and clients

More on the Pearson poll we mentioned:

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Read more from Leah on Twitter.