Thursday, September 25, 2014

Soft Skills are Important Too

First of all, what are soft skills and how to they make a difference in a career? Soft skills are the combined personal qualities, habits, attitudes and social charm that a person possesses. Employers look at soft skills to see if the person is compatible with the office/work environment. Also, research has shown that soft skills are just as significant indicator for job performance, which is exactly what employers look for in a candidate (Lorenz, 2014). In other words, soft skills are essential for any job because they demonstrate how you work rather than what learned in college. Examples of soft skills are: Strong work ethic, positive attitude, good communication skills, time management abilities, problem-solving skills, acting as a team player, self-confidence, ability to accept and learn from criticism, flexibility/adaptability, working well under pressure, critical observation and conflict resolution.

Bill Coplin wrote 10 Things Employers Want You to Learn in College and it focuses on the soft skills employers want to see in college graduates.
1). Establish a good work ethic. Meaning employees need to be honest, manage time and money.
2). Develop physical skills. Employers want their employees to stay well and appear professional.
3). Communicate verbally. This means employers want employees to be able to hold a conversation and present information to groups. This also means employees have to effectively communicate with clients as well.
4). Written communication. Employees should be able to effectively communicate via email, write well, edit, proofread, use a word processor and be able to send information electronically.
5). Work directly with people, which means build good relationships, work as a team and teach others.
6). Influence people. Yes, that means leading effectively and managing efficiently.
7). Gather information by searching library holdings, searching databases, conduct interviews, use surveys, keep and use records.
8). Use quantitative tools. This means using numbers, graphs, tables, spreadsheets effectively in the workplace.
9). Know how to ask and answer the right questions by paying attention to detail and evaluating actions and policies.
10). Know how to identify problems, develop a plan, and launch a solution.
According to the Career Advisory Board, there is a skills gap between how hiring managers rank importance of a job skill and how entry level job seekers rank the skill. Hiring managers thought that the most important skills were their employees’ ability to work with others,  flexibility and interpersonal skills. On the other hand, those who were entry-level job seekers thought high integrity, problem solving and strong communication were the most important soft skills (Morgan, 2014).

The great thing about the Department of Health Studies is that students learn all of these things through the coursework, especially the working well with others. Since health educators need to work with a variety of groups, group projects play an important role in the programs. The curriculum for programs offered by the Department of Health Studies is designed to help students be prepared for the workforce. In particular, the undergraduate program has an Internship Preparation course as well as a required Internship.

Whether you are a current TWU Health Studies student, an alum, or a community member and find yourself needing help in refining your soft skills, there are curriculum and activities that can help you. Check out the Office of Disability Employment Policy and they have activities to improve soft skills. If you are a student, you might want to contact the Pioneer Center for Student Excellence or the TWU Career Services.

Coplin, B. (2003). 10 things employers want you to learn in college. New York: Ten Speed Press.
Lorenz, K. (2014). Top 10 soft skills for job hunters: People skills and relationship-building are key to success. Retrieved from
Morgan, H. (2014). Job search help for new college graduates. Retrieved from

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