Dr Vaidyanathan Jayaraman is the Dean of Undergraduate Programs and a Distinguished Professor at SP Jain School of Global Management. He oversees the undergraduate programs across the School’s campuses in Dubai, Mumbai, Singapore and Sydney. Prior to taking on this role, Dr Jayaraman was the Principal and Associate Dean at Great Lakes Institute of Management, Chennai, India. Before joining Great Lakes, he was a tenured senior faculty at the School of Business Administration, University of Miami, USA, where he taught Supply Chain Operations and Analytics.
Companies are paying a lot more attention to graduates who possess the critical soft skills (interpersonal attributes) that are essential for effective performance and job success. These skills are not specific to any particular job-type but are considered as vital to any organization. Some of the top employability skills that any student should possess to get them ready for the real-world include communication (verbal and writing), team-work, logical reasoning, critical thinking and problem-solving. Organizations value such soft skills because they serve as important indicators of how you interact with team members and perhaps the most important stakeholders, the customers. They also look at how efficiently you can handle your job performance and career growth success rate.
Communication skills are vital and any graduate with impeccable communication skills will always be in high demand in any part of the world. Employers always like to figure out whether you are not only able to articulate and present yourself well but you are also good in written communication. An important part of communication is storytelling – this is a vibrant description of beliefs, ideas, personal challenges and life lessons through narratives that tend to conjure powerful insights and emotions. A good story fulfils a profound human requirement to grasp the patterns of living with a very personal, emotional experience.
The next trait that is useful to possess is understanding how to work as a team. Teamwork is all about working effectively with your colleagues while you recognize your own strengths and weakness in addition to identifying the unique traits of each team member. To work as part of a TEAM (together everyone achieves more) is also about providing and receiving constructive feedback and coaching, mentoring and motivating other members. At the end of the day, this skill is about collaboration, cooperation and contribution to team results and success.
Problem-solving is another important skill that is about developing creative, innovative and practical solutions to any given problem. It’s also about being proactive enough to identify and solve problems. When organizations talk about problem-solving skills, they are often referring to an employee’s ability to handle unexpected or difficult situations in the company as well as complex business challenges. Hence, companies are always seeking people who can assess both kinds of situations and serenely identify a solution. Problem-solving skills are also highly valuable and beneficial in day-to-day decision making. There are several methods to improve problem-solving skills – this includes acquiring more technical knowledge in a certain area of study, looking for opportunities to solve problems and do practice problems in the form of role-playing.
Decision-making is also a critical skill that needs to be developed because organizations want team members who are capable of independent thought while being decisive with the existing information at their disposal. It is clear that you are required to make a decision about how to solve problems that arise in the workplace on a frequent basis. Employees who possess
the expertise to conduct solid research and have the analytical capability skills can help them arrive at a decision.
Critical thinking is intricately connected to both problem solving and decision making. Typically, it has a goal to either solve a problem or arrive at a decision. The ability to think independently, rationally or with clarity are all elements that are essential for critical thinking. It also includes the ability to reflect on an idea, apply structured reasoning and then make logical connections between ideas. A number of recent studies indicate that critical thinking skills are among the most sought attribute that employers seek in job seekers. They want people who can quickly solve problems, arrive at an optimal if not feasible decision and then take appropriate action.
The next attribute that employers seek in a candidate is whether they’re trustworthy. During the pandemic, organizations had teams working remotely on their projects. The companies had to trust that their employees can start their work on time, organize their daily chores and complete all their assigned tasks – it is all about being accountable and responsible for all your actions. Trust is built around components such as reliability (being reliable creates trust), integrity (behaving in good faith), honesty (telling the truth creates the trust), competency (doing your job effectively and efficiently creates the trust) and vulnerability (being open). But you’ve to lead with empathy because that’s what gets you an opportunity to work on a project. The idea is that you need to know your product but also need to know the people involved in delivering that product or service to customers. So being empathetic is another important skill to possess because it is a powerful tool that can help you comprehend what’s driving a person’s behavior and helps you work through difficult times.
Over and beyond all the skills that have been laid out in this article, the most important skill that any student needs to acquire over a period of time before they start to work is to develop a tolerant and broad-minded attitude. Such an optimistic frame of mind always creates positive first impressions, which would then act as a gateway to developing deeper personal and professional connections. If you have a good attitude and the right aptitude, it will help you reach the highest altitude.