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Throughout our young adult life, we’ve experienced many victories — from years in formal schooling to tribulations that come along with navigating between different jobs, friends and personal strategies of success.

These countless learning experiences began at a young age with critical decision making and problem solving in the classroom. We grasped these understandings over time and their effects rippled throughout our adolescence and beyond, shaping our perceptions and personality. When the time comes to enter into the real world and search for a job after graduation (and it will come sooner than you think), you will be called upon by future employers to explain what skills and assets you possess naturally or those you’ve picked up along the way.

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As students, many of us tend to focus on the hard skills we possess that correlate with our natural capacity for intelligence, our chosen degree or academic accolades. We willingly emphasize our technical and analytical skills learned from reading the books of mathematics, accounting, biology and even foreign language. These accomplishments require a certain amount of competency that must be mastered in order to propel us onto the next step. We are prepared to explain our GPA and the meaning behind the numbers and letters on our transcripts. But are we prepared to discuss our soft skills, the skills we’ve learned through our capacity for emotional intelligence and intuition?

Soft skills lie a little deeper than our hard skills, and require an amount of self-awareness, regardless of our academic or vocational training. These are not taught in a classroom through a formal curriculum and aren’t graded with letters and numbers. These skills are learned through personal experience. Some examples include self-confidence, time management, adaptability, patience, leadership and communication skills. Employers want to see applicants who allow their soft skills to shine through their personality and complement their hard skills. If you are an accounting wiz but don’t work well with others or fail to take responsibility for your mistakes, your value as an employee is not as high.

This can be seen in any industry, not just those heavy with numbers and computing; some industries will require more hard skills and less soft skills, while others are the opposite. The main importance is understanding the different between the two and how they are meant to work together, not overshadow the other. Students must learn to develop their soft skills and be prepared to draw on them during a job interview. Employers will notice your passion and confidence, so just be you!

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