For starters,Soft skills are qualities or skills that is desired in any working professional or a person waiting to get hired.In any interview or meeting most interviewers gauge or calibrate a person based on his soft skills.In short most meetings are evaluation of a person's soft skills.Let us dive deep into soft skills
Knowledge can be defined as a theoretical gathering of information about a topic or generally anything and retaining it. It can be personal, technical, philosophical or even just gossip.
Data is just information or statistics of fact available in any form – in somebody’s mind, in record form, digital form, etc.
Capability can be defined as the capacity of an individual to do a particular task.
Left one to be briefed is skill.
One specific differentiation between knowledge and skill can be explained clearly by the following explanation.
I go to Market and buy the book on heart surgery – the costliest and by the best author. I go through the book thoroughly – line by line. You can try asking me any line any question. I will be able to answer without a blink.
Now that I have read the book – can I try my hand in performing a heart surgery – like using the scalpel, open the heart, take care of the issue at hand, place it back, stitch it close and get out of it. Patient will be breathing if he is very lucky (?!). Agreed?
But for a fleeting second, think of this same procedure - what does a surgeon do in case of a heart problem? Uses instruments like scalpel, scissors, etc. opens the chest, takes the heart out, takes care of the issue at hand, puts it back, stitches close and get out it. But the patient after the anaesthesia wears down, gets up to thank the surgeon – right….
The difference is the patient gets up to thank the doctor – steps pursued are the same. Then what is that one difference that makes the surgeon being looked upto with respect and awe!
Yes – you got it right! It is the “skill”.
Now proceeding with the above anecdote, can I take it that I acquire a qualification say MBBS after a rigorous study in a prestigious Institution and the first day I enter, I am licensed to perform heart surgery.
Why always a Doctor – let us change this to a Mechanical Engineer - after a distinction in Engineering, the first day in a factory – can this Engineer be given responsibility of rectifying a machine which has come to a standstill.
Then how do we define “skill” if the diploma or degree or doctorate is not giving me “skill” - or people do not accept a holder of diploma / degree / doctorate as a “skilled” person.
Now let us take the words – data, knowledge, capability and skill – take a breather to define “skill”.
Individuals get data from various sources like research studies, text books, print media, digital forms and agitate in their mind with their wisdom to make it knowledge and have certain basic capacity to perform tasks – mental or physical.
First and foremost, this person will be allowed to:
Based on their knowledge and capability, they will be picked as Assistants / Understudy to those experienced craftsmen. By constantly observing them at work, by assisting them in a small way in the whole process and slowly getting into the groove of performing smaller tasks on their own – the ones that may not cause irreparable damage – they start gaining confidence. Confidence to do what?
Then they get the first chance to perform a end-to-end task and have gained enough knowledge and wisdom to independently handle the task on hand - perform and then get praised – they have acquired the…….
S K I L L……………….
“Skill can simply be defined as the capacity of a person to perform a task creditably without much of supervision or independently and with the backing of data, knowledge and experience that one has acquired over a period of time from observing other craftsmen or successful professionals”.
Skill can be generally classified as Soft Skill and Hard Skill. Without much ado (since we have spent a lot of time coming to the word “skill” supra),
“Soft Skill – is the skill that one gets by observing non-technical professionals and fine tunes it with his own perception and wisdom – like communication, leadership, staffing/recruiting,organizing,problem solving, etc
“Hard Skill – is the skill that one gets by observing technicians at work, gets practically trained to do a particular task, fine tunes with experience and acquires the capacity to perform independently or with least supervision – like flying plans, running a machine, driving a car, etc.”
Any level of employee – be it unskilled to the CEO of a Business Conglomerate - needs at least basic skill sets, like communicating, organising, etc.
Communication will be termed as even better than basic skill set. If I do not have this, I cannot function in an Establishment – whatever nature it be in.. level being immaterial.
While we will go through extensive coverage of ‘ communication ’ elsewhere, let me touch upon briefly as to what is communication here.
“ Communication involves more than one - sender and receiver – data, knowledge, material, order, instruction, advice – going from one to another – without distortion from the sender to receiver – irrespective of the medium through which – e.g. direct, phone, mail, letter, digital or person – it has been dispatched”
If the content is different at the receiving point – e.g. receiver – from the one from the sending point – there is distortion in communication – reasons for such incidences will be dealt with elsewhere.
Staffing has always been at the forefront of owners' minds. After all, what is a business without employees?
Evolution of hiring from the yester-years is starkly different - days of handing out biodata to the Office concerned in person are all but over. Receiving and analyzing job applications have moved vertically above and in a in a completely digital direction – and it provides factual and brighter insights into candidates than ever.
"Forty years ago, my first application was all of four lines" said a CEO of a recruitment firm. “it went on like:
Do you expect to be called for an interview with this application. The Security / Courier desk person would throw it in the waste paper basket without wasting a second. The CV of the now is a collection of all data that can be found online, like participation in online communities, conferences and meet-ups. By going through the digital respond,today’s Recruiters can assess whether a person will fit, and learn if he or she has the right skills for the job.
Recruiting function will gradually shift away from a decision model based on past practices and intuition towards data-driven decisions.
The challenge of matching crores of unemployed to the brief on hand to the handful of positions available in the organization requires unique skills of segregating pompous to the cryptic, to the verbose to the substance, to the paper-degree to a real-time performer.
Unique skills being analytics programs, "big-data treatment" so the hirer can quickly and easily locate the best people for the job, experts say.
Research will be both ways - by the hirer as well as the hiree. As much as the employer wants all of cream, the cream also would research and choose where it will be better utilized.
Any sane individual who wants to make a mark in his career has always to face situations where a route has to be taken- where an alternative has to be pursued. When do I take that route? After considering all pros and cons of an issue – take the route which has been successful to majority of your predecessors – known or unknown – either knowledge acquired from direct experience or by reading somebody’s experience or even listening to a senior who thinks well for you.
Never expect in a Corporate world for somebody to stand behind you and continuously motivate you, by patting you in the back or advising you non-stop for actions to be taken or for the steps to be followed. You should get to the situation where you have the temerity to self-pat and get on with life – irrespective of whether somebody has noticed your action or ignored it.
Then you don’t need close supervision and you will be considered a good worker because they are generally positive about life and can be counted upon to keep going. It also helps to work on your personal resilience and adaptability to change.
While it would be improper for me to try and help you understand Leadership as part of other skills, it would not be out of place for us to touch upon what is leadership.
One thing for certain is that Leadership skill cannot be self taught. The individual has to have lots and lots of patience and perseverance to observe and adopt from others’ actions / inactions. Choosing the right blend of path that would spell success not only to his self but also to the team that he heads as also the Organization he is part of.
Good communication skills, particularly good listening skills, together with an ability to build rapport will go a long way to support your ability to work well in a team.
Highly valued Creativity and problem-solving skills are hard to develop. There are many people who believe that creative thinkers are born, not made, and there are certainly some people who find these skills much easier. But, like other skills, you can develop them if you work to do so and our pages on these topics will give you some ideas about how to do this.
These two skills, which often go hand-in-hand, are more an attitude than a skill. However they can also be developed and honed, which is why they are critical and a must-have for an individual to excel in the Corporate world. Of course this list is not exhaustive. Just one glance round will show you that there is a huge range of soft skills. Any given employer or individual may place more or less emphasis on these or other mental agility skills which will be explained elsewhere by us.However, work to develop the skills in this list is likely to pay off in a job search, in any job or career on which you embark, and in life more generally.