The Importance of “Soft Skills”

Jeff Carroll forwarded me an interesting article from Forbes about the alarming dearth of college graduates who possess “soft skills.” As our educational system has increasingly focused on “hard skills” — technical skills and knowledge of a specific subject matter — students have been denied curricula that develop “soft skills” — the ability to think critically and creatively and effectively communicate through writing, in addition to “[s]kills like problem solving, leadership, teamwork, empathy, and social/emotional intelligence.” As one expert notes, “While good grades don’t hurt and specialized skill sets are required for many jobs, there are some hiring attributes that make prospective employees more desirable to employers all over the world: leadership, personal and intellectual humility, the ability to attribute some purpose to your work, and the ability to take ownership of the task at hand.”

My last post emphasized reading as one way to cultivate the ability to “think outside of the box” (a soft skill), and becoming an avid reader is an important step toward personal and professional growth. But there is something else you should realize:  As a student in the LMAS program, you are afforded the opportunity to develop soft skills through the workshops you attend. In fact, each and every one of the workshops focuses on one or more of the soft skills so highly valued by employers — and the common thread through them all is leadership. A leader is someone who has mastered both hard and soft skills. He/she has knowledge of the technical aspects of the profession, as well as the awareness and skill necessary to expand and maximize the application of that knowledge in the real world.

When you leave here with an MAS, Leadership, you will be a master of accounting science and leadership. Your very degree will reflect that you have acquired both hard and soft skills, and prospective employers will take note.

So the next time Jeff asks the group, “Are you a vacationer, a prisoner, or a sponge?” think long and hard about your answer before you groan, “prisoner.” That workshop is giving you an edge over the competition. Be a sponge — participate, take notes, drink it up. Be a leader.

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