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Have Soft Skills Replaced Degrees For Employers?

For generations, we’ve been led to believe that obtaining a bachelor’s degree meant landing a higher-paying job. However, as times change, so must our standards of how we evaluate how those degrees meet the needs of the job market. Those who analyze the market are now trying to determine how important diplomas and college degrees truly are in today’s work environment. Modern problems require modern solutions to the question: Are Four year degrees required in today’s workforce?

For the last two and a half decades, four-year degrees have been a prerequisite for a majority of higher-paying jobs. This has become increasingly true for jobs that don’t necessarily require them. This phenomenon is referred to as “Degree Inflation”. It is largely responsible for an ineffective and difficult job market as well, considering only ⅓ of the population of the U.S. has a four-year degree. 

Pursuing a degree at a college or university may be helpful for you if you’re looking to master a field of study. However, employers now tend to look at what kinds of skills or experiences candidates bring to the table. Internships and volunteer experience are often the clearest way those skills and insights are demonstrated. Someone who might be great at studying and learning in theory, might not perform as well as an average student when working in their field. 

Soft skills are skills that exemplify how you work and not just what you’ll do in a role. In recent years, soft skills have emerged as an important factor in how employers are considering who gets a job, and who doesn’t. Some of these skills include emotional intelligence, leadership skills, critical thinking skills, and adaptability. 

Emotional Intelligence is the ability to understand, use, and manage your own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, as well as overcome challenges and defuse conflict. Someone can be perfectly suited for a role and be absolutely brilliant. However, if they can’t manage their emotions, it may end up being a detriment to your team. This is also especially important for managers. Being able to empathize and empower your employees to succeed is paramount for your long-term success. 

It shouldn’t really come as a surprise that leadership is one of the most important soft skills. Employees can develop their leadership skills by taking initiative on critical tasks and issues that arise. Being able to make smart decisions and executing on them can lessen the burden for management while helping you to develop creativity and problem solving skills. . 

The best leaders are also good followers too. Knowing when to step back and cede the mantle of leadership to those who may have more expertise or a better perspective on varying challenges demonstrates a cohesive team that places their team’s objectives above their own ego. Fostering a diverse and inclusive atmosphere is an easy way to make sure the team feels everyone’s voices are heard and their opinions considered in the decision making process.  

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