SOFT SKILLS : The mantra of Success

Students, professionals, and industries are talking about the much hyped and needed soft skills for the students of B Schools. Everybody seems to have woken up to the fact that soft skills are more important than the technical skills. Soft skills are the opposite of hard skills. Hard skills are basically technical skills that identify people in certain industries whereas soft skills are what professionals need to move along with each other, such as emotional intelligence, a sense of humor, manners and observing the proper way to act in a given situation. Technical skills position you as competent, but soft skills help you to deal with your clients and co-workers.

MBA graduates feel that just getting a degree/diploma in hand would get them a great job, however, they are left disappointed when they face the interviews and find that they lack the much-needed communication skills to impress the interviewer. In many leading companies, recruiters are now looking at candidates with not only business/technical skills but also with a set of soft skills, which includes how well they relate and communicate with others. The most sought-after skill during an interview is the communication skill as it comprehends how well the candidate would communicate with his seniors, peers, and clients. The development of ‘Soft Skills’ in the industry becomes very important when there is intense competition for many available positions. The ability to develop and use ‘soft skills’ can make the difference between a job offer and the enjoyment of a new employment and community environment.

According to MeritTrac’s (India’s Largest Skills Assessment Company) Talent Pool Report, three out of four MBA graduates are unemployable in India. These alarming reports have sent strong signals to the industry and B-schools who have realized the dire need of training students in soft skills in order to carve them into industry ready professionals. Most of the B-schools have started integrating soft skills training into their curriculum. Rigorous soft skills training includes mock interviews, group discussion, public speaking classes and interactive sessions. Also, managerial communication, organizational behavior, and leadership courses are conducted on regular basis. Still, the industry is facing a shortage of people who are capable of delivering soft skills training. The demand-supply gap still hovers at large.

In the majority of B schools, students lack communication and articulation skills. The B schools have taken this aspect seriously and have incorporated soft skills as a module in all semesters and cover it as a part of their curriculum. These kind of training programs are quite beneficial for the students especially coming from small towns and cities.

Let us have a look at what life skills means? According to Wikipedia, Soft skills refer to the cluster of personality traits, social graces, ability with language, personal habits, friendliness, and optimism that mark people to varying degrees. Soft skills complement hard skills which are the technical requirements of a job. Skills like communication, time management, confidence, public speaking, cooperation amongst others are known as soft skills. To be flexible enough in order to adapt to the changing needs of an organization is also a part of soft skills, as it helps students to collaborate with others and influence situations through lateral and more creative thinking.

Soft skills include everything that relates to a group, an individual or an organization in relation to interpersonal behavior, job performance, interaction and working in a team. MBA students aspiring for a job should have a combination of traits and skills like leadership, management, interpersonal skills and ethical behavior in order to move up the corporate ladder.

While at work, soft skills are all about projecting one’s professional skills at its best. Soft skills are not only required while interacting with customers but also in industries where a high level of collaboration is required between multi-disciplinary teams. Employees equipped with good business etiquettes have great self-confidence and self-esteem. This also reflects on their output and quality and also shows out their clarity and determination towards their task. Companies with high investment in training show a higher market capitalization than other companies in the industry.

Some Reasons why MBA aspirants should develop Soft Skills are

  • 1. Soft Skills help improve your career
  • 2. Soft skills create opportunities
  • 3. Soft skills help advancement in career
  • 4. Soft skills offer personal growth

Though B-schools are responsible for making the students understand the importance of such skills, the students also have to take some charge. Students have to comprehend the fact that if they aspire to a good job and want to sustain it, soft skills are important. If the institution is doing the needful, it is also the onus of the individual to take such training programs seriously in order to excel in their professional life. Though institutions have started focusing towards making their students value the need of soft skills through various seminars, conferences, and workshops, the initiatives have to be on a larger scale to ensure that students learn these skills for life.

Finally one has to remember that Soft Skills are skills that are not meant only for today they are meant for life. These skills make a significant impact on an individuals’ working environment thereby maximizing his contribution to the organization.