Importance of Soft Skills for Career Progression

By: Rohan Bhargava, Co-Founder, for Bansal Institute of Engineering & Technology

Rohan Bhargava

Do people with a very strong technical background require soft skills? Do we really need to be good communicators for better placements? Being an engineer, is it important to delegate time to work on people skills? Aren’t people skills only limited to an HR’s job profile?

I am often asked these questions about placements and career opportunities at various talks and interactions with engineering students.

Soft skills include the traits and aspects of a person’s character. It encompasses communication skills, personal habits, ability to empathise with people, presentation skills and the list is endless. While we can ponder for as long as we want about the skills that are more important to inculcate, the most important question to stumble upon is what our expectations from a job are.

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Strong technical skills alone can get a person to a decent level. They will lead to prompt placement and allow a person to make a living for himself and gradually learn in the process. The question is – Is that enough? As an individual grows, he is expected to present ideas, speak at events and with key clients. Companies need innovation in terms of new products and systems, and they accordingly look for holistically-developed students who can think outside the box, adapt to different situations, and have problem-solving and conflict-resolution skills. This is where the need for soft skills arises.
Imagine a scenario where a company is rolling out a new idea. It is possible that someone with lesser technical skills could become the face of this idea owing only to his strong soft skills. This person, in turn, gets the credit, the growth and the promotions. Today, the Industry is looking for a dual set of skills. On one hand, they want academically and technically sound students, but on the other hand they have an eye out for students who have a way around people and are confident enough to pull things off. So, if you really want to be at the helm and become a leader you need to hone both skill sets.
Soft skills can be perceived as an amalgamation of art and science. Even though it is important to have a bend towards these skills right from the start, they can also be gained and moulded with time and experience. There are times when you learn from your co-workers. The other day I was talking to an Intern from IIT Roorkee, working with CashKaro about the same. He mentioned that there is a special Humanities Department at every IIT campus which works to inculcate these skills in students. It is evident that institutes are realising the change in the era and work environment. It’s like soft and hard skills have become two faces of the same coin.

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A lot of managers have very common feedback regarding soft skills. According to them, these skills act as catalysts and this expedites the whole process and makes it smoother. Very often, it is seen that people who are brilliant at their work somehow miss putting their point across effectively due to subpar soft skills. This gap creates hindrance not just for the employee but for the business as a whole. Thus, when firms recruit, they give importance to all such aspects.
While technical skills define the knowledge of your domain, soft skills help represent them and hence determine the pace of one’s career growth. In technical terms, it’s just like a UI which helps to interact, and the combination of both helps to develop and maintain a sustainable career. At the end of the day, it’s not just about getting a job but also about the progression in one’s career path and soft skills, without a doubt, will get you there.