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5 Key Soft Skills

Employer's expectations 5 Key Soft Skills.png
Click on the infographic to see it in PDF form

As part of our research project entitled the “Educational, Social and Health Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Graduates’ Transitioning into the Workplace” funded by the Collaborative Research Fund of the HKSAR Research Grants Council (Project Code: C7086-21G), we interviewed HR managers and employers working in professional services about their views towards graduates’ transition to the workplace.  

Our infographic identifies 5 soft skills that employers expect of their new employees. These skills are communication, time management, resilience, proactiveness, and teamwork. While acquiring these skills seem obvious at first glance, what do HR managers have to say about graduates’ aptitudes? 

Communication – This skill isn’t simply about befriending your colleagues and inviting them for lunch. Some HR managers we interviewed noted that graduates are quite passive when communicating at work. When they are going through problems, they do not ask for help, nor do they provide updates to communicate where their work progress is at. Communication is important to make sure that we’re all on the right track, and it also allows for conflict prevention and resolution.  

Time management – When was the last time you told a friend you would be a tiny bit late for the meetup? While this may seem inconsequential with friends, employers have mentioned that new employees struggle with punctuality and timeliness. It is important to follow through with the time commitments you agreed to as a sign of respect. Make sure you communicate what the expectations are for task completion with your boss. This way you are both communicating that you are on the task, and figuring out how to prioritise your time dealing with it. 

Resilience – As with any new step in life, entering the workplace comes with a set of challenges. Sometimes these challenges can be confusing to navigate, but it is important to not give up in the face of them and show resilience. Employers have said that new employees can be unhappy when given criticism or feedback. We should remember that feedback is not necessarily a sign of disproval, but that it can also mean that your employers have faith in you and would like to see you improve. Make sure to keep an open mind about challenges in the workplace! 

Proactiveness – In addition to being proactive in communicating, new employees should take initiative to learn how to navigate the workplace themselves. Admittedly, it can be a bit of a learning curve, but we cannot expect our colleagues to guide us all the time, as they are busy people too. Be prudent, but do try to figure out doable things on your own. Your colleagues will appreciate your independence. 

Teamwork – Teamwork makes the dream work! All workplaces are ultimately a team and learning to work with others is crucial. You’ll always need your colleagues help, much like they will need yours. Teamwork is all about office synergy, so make sure you leverage all the previous soft skills to make your team the dream team.  

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