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Head with GearA gear inside head illustration to indicate knowledge and skills foundations.Foundation Knowledge and Skills

Soft Skills

Skills needed for academic and career success can vary based on the Career Pathway. Some careers require advances academic skills, while others demand a stronger focus on technical skills. What is consistent across all Career Pathways is the need to SOFT SKILLS.  Soft Skills are the personal attributes you need to succeed in the workplace. These are often related to how you work with others – in other words, these are people skills. Developing these skills will not only help you stand out in a crowd, they are often the skills that help maintain employment and move people into promotions quicker.

  • In a survey done by a Wisconsin Jobs Initiative, more than 75% of employers surveyed said that soft skills were as important as—or more important than—technical skills in securing entry-level employment.
  • Research on predicting the future career success of students supports employers’ opinions that some soft skills are a better predictor of adult success (salaries, graduation rates, home ownership) than technical skills.
  • 85% of job success comes from having well-developed soft skills, and only 15% of job success comes from technical skills
Chat BubblesTwo chat bubbles to indicate communications skills.

Communication skills are important in almost every job. You will likely need to communicate with people, whether they are clients, customers, colleagues, employers, or vendors. You will need to be able to clearly and politely speak with people in person, over the phone, and in writing.

You will also likely need to be a good listener. Employers want employees who can not only communicate their own ideas but also listen empathetically to others. Listening is a particularly important skill in customer service jobs.

Skills to practice 
  • Listening
  • Negotiation
  • Nonverbal communication
  • Public speaking
  • Creating presentations
  • Writing reports and proposals
  • Understanding body language
LightbulbLightbulb shining illustration to indicate critical thinking skill.
Critical Thinking

No matter what the job, employers want candidates who can analyze a situation and make an informed decision. Whether you are working with data, teaching students, or fixing a home heating system, you need to be able to understand problems, think critically, and come up with solutions.

Skills to practice
  • Asking questions and being curious
  • Creative thinking
  • Adaptability and flexibility
BullseyeBullseye with arrow illustration to indicate leadership skill.

Everyone is a leader in some aspect of their life. Leadership is essentially a collection of various soft skills. Employers want to have confidence that you are able to make decisions and think as an innovator. Leaders are often put into the position of having to manage people, conflicts and idea development.

Skills to practice
  • Decision making
  • Delegation
  • Facilitation
  • Reflection
  • Conflict resolution
  • Mentoring
  • Patience
  • Confidence
TeamworkGroup of people in pyramid illustration to indicate teamwork skill.

Just about every career will require you to be able to work effectively with the people around you. Every team member has a specific role to play in accomplishing tasks on the job. You will need to be able to work with others even when you might have a different opinion or perspective. When everyone in the workplace works together to accomplish goals, everyone achieves more.

Skills to practice
  • Collaboration
  • Empathy
  • Negotiation
  • Self-awareness
  • Conflict resolution
  • Motivation techniques
  • Sensitivity to diversity
TimeClock with arrow illustration to indicate time management skill
Time Management

Employers want employees that are able to manage their time well and work efficiently. People with great time management skills are able to complete tasks on time, stay focused, and stay organized.

Skills to practice
  • Attention to detail
  • Organization
  • Prioritization
  • Self-motivation
  • Decision making
  • Multitasking
  • Persistence,
  • Planning
  • Scheduling