More education and industry experts and analysts now agree that there is an equal importance in learning non-academic skills as well as academic skills. The problem with hiring managers and job recruiters however, is that they tend to overlook this “stuff” simply because this “stuff” isn’t on any resume and some don’t even know what to call it.
There is some difficulty trying to explain to graduating students during a career seminar that when they go job hunting, non-academic stuff is just as important even if it’s not on the resume or measurable on any standardized test. For instance, you might spend almost an hour talking with a hiring manager about web development for specific projects, but you’ll never talk about things like character, or as one industry expert call it, “non-cognitive skills.” However, even this term can be just a little bit controversial.
The terminology is also being argued on because you can’t just lump everything on “character skills” or “non-cognitive skills.” Some experts say that there should be specific terms, again, even if they don’t appear in any resume. Perhaps these suggestions can help.
21st Century Skills
No, this doesn’t mean new strategies in IT or robotics; it means how good your skills are in critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity are. In this age of advanced information gathering, media, and technology, not having good critical thinking alone would be very shocking. These cognitive skills are now more important more than ever with the easy access to every type of information imaginable.
This isn’t just talking about being hard working or honesty but other important character factors like passion, optimism, self-control, gratitude, social intelligence, and curiosity. It’s not about religion or even ethics since these topics are somewhat taboo during job interviews. It’s looking at the fundamental character of a job applicant like what is right and wrong and being kind to others. Many hiring managers do still keep away from character analysis of a candidate since these might touch on moral and religious connotations.
Many people call this “grit.” True grit means being persistent and pursuing something even if it’s facing failure at the end. Grit means seeing something done up to the end and turning things around to success even in the face of failure. This is actually a powerful character determinant of most successful people but, alas, it’s not measurable even by the best hiring managers or CEO’s on job applicants they interview. Still, if a company happens to snag a hard working applicant with good persistent grit, that company can be quite lucky.
Employers, CEO’s, and hiring managers normally do discuss about soft skills with job applicants in terms of being able to write a letter, coming on time to work or meetings, and even having a firm handshake. However, like its cousins the 21st century skills and character skills, some still find these vague. But having the right soft skills can still make the difference with fresh graduates looking for jobs. After all, having a firm handshake and showing up on time for a job interview is a good start already.