Classical Skills Required In the Workplace They Aren’t Teaching You at School
Competition in today’s job market is fierce and many graduates find they are drowning in the competition. A big part of the problem is many graduates aren’t being properly prepared for the workplace by their education. There is a major skills gap occurring between what companies need and what graduates have to offer. Many graduates are severely lacking in social skills, known as soft skills, in particular, the Big Three C’s: Communication, Collaboration, and Critical Thinking. Conquer these skills and you will find yourself floating above the sea of competition.
So why are graduates and millennials lacking these basic skills? How can you master them and set yourself ahead of the crowd? We’re here to answer these questions and more.
Where Did Classical Training Go?
You’ve spent at least 4 long years, working and studying to master your field of study. Countless hours have been logged into libraries, classrooms, and cramming for exams. Your college experience should have more than prepared you for real world practice in your field. Unfortunately, those expensive academic institutions may be part of the problem.
A recent shift has changed programs in many of these pillars of education into scholarly pursuits only. This means they have abandoned their goal of preparing students for real life labor and instead focused on creating adults who can memorize and recite facts and opinions.
For many years, academic institutions focused on the education and preparation of students for real world work. This included classical study in liberal arts. Consider this, over a century ago, the University of Pennsylvania had these requirements for freshmen:
- At least 14 years old
- Proficient in Latin or Greek
- Knowledge of the following books; Csesar’s Gallic War, The Ovid, Cicero, Virgil, Horace, Homer, and Xenophon
- Ancient and Modern Geography
Can you honestly say that you have this experience or that you know of a single college graduate who does, much less a 14-year old? Classical Studies prepared students for the real world by:
- Creating a foundation of common knowledge amongst scholars and workers. This common ground gave them an ability to understand each other and communicate ideas.
- Providing instruction and practice in communication through discussion and debate. Debates were sometimes fiery but they relied on respect and certain rules. These rules followed students into the world where they would be able to collaborate, communicate, and problem solve with other people.
- Building critical thought processes through study of ancient history and practice in classroom discussions. History gave students the opportunity to hypothesize other results to historical events. They could then work through problems with other students and discuss ideas together.
Our world is much more digital, faster paced and convenient. And, if there is anything that millennials excel at, it’s technology and digital lifestyles. However, abandoning these classic disciplines have created a vacuum in social skills. So how do you change these things and find a way to shine amongst millions of other applicants? It’s easier than you think.
Standing Out with Soft Skills
You don’t have to go back to school or crack ancient books to be a star in the job market, there are lots of ways to master the three c’s. Get in there and practice, here’s a few ways to start:
- Start Thinking Critically- Put down your phone or tablet and pick up some strategy games or books. Puzzles, books, 60-second mysteries, crosswords, and even strategy board games can all get your critical thinking muscle working again. This can actually be fun and you can share it with other friends or family.
- Don’t Be Too Emotional- Reason and logic are key components to each core soft skill; critical thinking, collaboration, and communication. Being passionate is important. However, if you can’t discuss your passion calmly, work with other people of differing views on a shared goal, or see other options and ideas, you’ll never fulfill any dream. Find a balance of passion with reason.
- Practice Makes Perfect Conversation- Just as you studied for exams in college, you’ll need to study and practice your conversation skills. Go out in the real world, not online or through your phone, and speak to real people. Deliberately pay attention to how you speak to people.
- Are you polite?
- Do you listen as well as you talk?
- Do you share the conversation, or is it all about you?
- Do you make eye contact and show interest in the speaker?
- Do you really hear the other person, or are you simply preparing your next comment?
- Do you keep the discussion friendly and avoid controversial topics?
If you aren’t doing these things on a regular basis, you need to practice. Join in on trivia night, start polite conversations with people in line, volunteer at the local shelter. Find a way to have face to face conversations with people in real life as much as possible.
- Join a Team- Collaboration is a skill that is desperately needed in the workplace today. Find a team to join, or a group activity of any kind. It can be sports, charitable works, board game nights at the library, or anything that puts you in a group setting. The more you do this, the more comfortable you will be with collaboration and it will show in your work.
- Prepare Interview Skills- All of your skills will show up in your interview if you come prepared. Practice with friends, in the mirror, or with recruiters. When you come prepared for the interview, your confident and relaxed approach will speak volumes to hiring managers.
Tackle Soft Skills Now
Mastering soft skills is simply a matter of practice and usage. The more you use them, the better you will be at using them. Employers are looking for competent, collaborative people who are skilled communicators and critical thinkers. Focus on your soft skills and you’ll be at the front of the line for any position you choose.