Why do we call them soft skills when they are the hardest to get?
If we call them soft we imply they are fluffy, fluid, intangible, or difficult to measure.
I do agree that certain focused skills are essential. That hiring coders who can’t code, salespeople who can’t sell is a short road to failure.
But we give too little respect to the other skills when we call them “soft” and imply that they’re optional. Why not call them real skills?
Vocational skills can be taught (you’re not born knowing engineering or copywriting or even graphic design), but I am convinced that when it comes to decision making, eager participation, dancing with fear, speaking with authority, working in teams, seeing the truth, speaking the truth, inspiring others, doing more than we’re asked, caring and being willing to change things, …..those skills can also be thought. And should be thought.
In schools and also in the education you give your children, we should invest more in this training and not be fearful that these things are innate and can’t be taught.
They are interpersonal skills, leadership skills, the skills of charisma, diligence and contribution.
We need to call them real because they work, because they’re at the heart of what we need today. Real skills can’t replace vocational skills, of course not. What they can do is amplify.
Do not sell yourself short by vaguely describing your contributions in these areas; and don’t fall into the trap of thinking of these as lesser skills — focus on the framing, and others will recognize their importance, just as you do.
But these modifiers are the skills that we actually hire for, the skills we measure a graduate degree on.
And even if you do not have degree, to me that matters less then feeling you you have real skills, that is what really matters.