What do you think of when you hear the word “skill”? Perhaps a high-flying gymnast, or a sous chef, or scoring 100% in a calculus exam. If you thought that, you are not wrong, but you may be interested in knowing that many skills are not as obvious to identify! The aforementioned are examples of hard skills, but it is essential to note that soft skills play a major role in making you the whole package you aspire to be! Hard skills are defined as skills that pertain to specific knowledge and training, such as database management. Soft skills, however, are more subtle and present themselves in personality traits such as integrity, creativity and many more (Cukier et al., 2015).
On that note, what soft skills do you possess and how do they show up in professional settings? I strongly believe that university not only gives you the knowledge and hard skills you need to fulfill your professional goals, but is also a place to acquire and nurse vital soft skills. Cue the transferable skills self-assessment. In my opinion, this quiz elicits critical scrutiny of our reactions to common situations in school and work, in order to identify our soft skills. I have taken this quiz myself and I would like to share my thoughts on two major things I learned.
Lesson 1: There’s always more to you below the surface.
This is something we hear often in a number of different situations. Nevertheless, there is truth to this cliché. Day in, day out, we interact with people and do our work, sometimes without really questioning why we do things a certain way. This quiz asks simple questions that help you interrogate your approaches to school and work. One might think, “What does how I connect with classmates have to do with transferable skills?” This quiz began to open my eyes to what that meant. For example, I discovered that my inclination to listen instead of actively speaking is a sign of strong active listening skills. Active listening is a soft skill that is vital in a barrage of opportunities in the professional world! Customer service, psychology, medicine, politics: the possibilities are, in a nutshell, endless! Yet, it never occurred to me that how I interacted with people I meet every day for trivial reasons could have such implications.
On the flip side, it showed that focusing overtly on my active listening skills might cause me to miss out on opportunities to share my valuable ideas. This answer elicited both pros and cons in my favoured approach to communicating with my classmates! The importance of voicing your ideas in any professional setting goes without saying. I believe most people consider implicitly that what they do today affects their future, including myself. This quiz brought that to the forefront of my mind, and that brings me to my second point!
Lesson 2: Every day is an opportunity to learn.
I sometimes find myself taking the things I do often for granted, including my actions regarding school and work. For instance, when I have group work, I focus more on listening and getting the job done than on how I connect with my team. However, the transferable skills self-assessment reminded me that every interaction is a potential skill gained, developed, or even diminished! Awareness can be a game-changer. Now, I approach group work not only seeking to actively contribute but try to engage personally with my team to create a more conducive, collaborative atmosphere. For me, knowing the consequences or rewards of my actions is a great motivator for putting my best foot forward. Of course, you should always put your best foot forward, but I find that having a reason to do something usually results in more long-term commitment.
To summarize, my experience with this self-assessment was worthwhile. In addition to pulling back the curtain on the skills we demonstrate and areas for improvement in our day-to-day activities, you are given resources that can expand your knowledge on certain topics. For instance, you can find articles or videos on how to deal with conflict resolution. There is a resource for every feedback given. If you’re as curious as I was to learn about transferable skills, definitely give this quiz a shot!
Cukier, W., Hodson J., & Omar, A. (2015) “Soft” Skills are Hard: A Review of the Literature. Retrieved from https://www.ryerson.ca/content/dam/diversity/reports/KSG2015_SoftSkills_FullReport.pdf