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As a Millennial, it often eludes us as to which soft skills employers seek most in young employees. Job postings list the technical skills required for certain positions but what about the soft skills. Which soft skills are crucial to being successful in any work environment. This article will provide you with seven key soft skills employers are looking for in a millennial employee.

7 soft skills every millennial should have

In 2014, the Council of Economic Advisers released a report called “15 economic facts about millennials.” In that report, they stated that the millennial generation is one of the highest educated generations.

They also found that over 47 percent of millennials between the ages 25 to 34 have received a post-secondary degree. This indicates that most millennials are not lacking in the hard skills department, but what about soft skills?

Most employers would argue that soft skills are just as important as hard skills. Let’s first begin by defining soft skills and then delve into seven key soft skills millennials should have to be successful in the workforce.

What are soft skills?

Soft skills are personal qualities, attributes, values, and behaviors an individual possesses that are valuable in the workforce.

Soft skills, such as good communication skills, help individuals become successful in any position or field.

Some soft skills are not easy to teach; they often depend on a number of personal factors in an individual’s life such as their attitudes about work.

Hard skills, on the other hand, are job-specific skills that are acquired; Anyone can learn these types of skills through training or post-secondary education.

Soft skills are often overlooked in post-secondary education.

Most university programs or courses focus primarily on teaching students hard skills.

This means that most millennial graduates are equipped with all of the technical skills they need to be successful in a position; however, they may lack the soft skills they need to succeed.

Now let’s look at seven key soft skills employers seek in a millennial employee.

1. Work ethic

Work ethic is a quality that is innate and often instilled at a young age. Meaning an individual either possess this quality by adulthood or they do not.

As Penny Loretto states in her article “Top 12 Soft Skills Employers Seek” a range of factors contribute to the level of work ethic an individual holds; including their upbringing and the experiences, they have had in life concerning their work habits.

An individual that has strong work ethic takes pride in the quality of their work and is willing to do whatever is necessary to complete a task on their own accord.

One of the most sought-after soft skills is a strong work ethic.

Consequently, it is paramount that Millennials possess this quality if they want to be successful in the workforce.

2. Communication skills

Communication skills both written and oral are crucial in any field or position.

Many employers today site concerns that millennials often lack these skills.

According to the article “Top Employers Say Millennials Need These 4 Skills in 2017” by Caroline Beaton; employers like Jake Rozmaryn, the CEO of Eco Branding, often finds “careless typing and formatting errors in millennial applicant writing and work samples.”

Unfortunately, millennials have gotten so used to abbreviating words in order to type faster on social media that they often incorporate these abbreviations into their work.

Another factor that compounds this issue is the fact that most post-secondary courses focus primarily on technical skills rather than proper business communication skills.

Employers require employees to be able to professionally and effectively communicate with clients and other business personnel.

To be successful in the workforce, it is crucial that millennials possess the ability to clearly and professionally communicate in both written and oral form.

3. Interpersonal skills

Almost every job today requires an employee to be able to work in a team or group setting.

Interpersonal skills encompass several qualities such as effective communication skills, good listening skills, collaboration skills, the willingness to compromise, and the ability to take criticism.

Employers need individuals that can be team players; they don’t want an employee that doesn’t work well with others. Interpersonal skills are a critical part of being a leader.

Millennials that seek to obtain a leadership role must possess excellent interpersonal skills.

You must be able to communicate effectively with others in both written and oral form.

It also entails the ability to listen to others ideas and take criticism.

In order to flush out, these qualities in an interview employers will often ask candidates to tell them about a time that they handled a conflict between a co-worker or a client.

4. Time management

Time management is an important result-oriented leadership skill.

This skill encompasses the ability to prioritize tasks and to deliver results within a task deadline without compromising the quality of work.

Millennials that have strong time management skills are better equipped to keep up with and adapt in a fast-paced organization.

It is also an important skill when placed in leadership roles. Especially when placed in charge of projects that involve the coordination of multiple team members within a larger project.

5. Problem solving

Problem-solving skills are important in any field or position.

Employers want an employee that knows how to think critically when faced with an issue and can come up with a solution.

Any employee can point out a problem, but a strong employee can come up with a solution. Possessing the ability to think critically will ensure a millennials success in the workforce.

Facing challenges is a daily part of any position. Demonstrating effective problem-solving skills can potentially lead to a leadership role in the future.

This leads to the next soft skill adaptability since problem-solving showcases an individuals ability to adapt to changes.

6. Adaptability

Adaptability is an important quality to have; it ensures one’s ability to thrive in any environment under any circumstances.

The world is changing every day which means we too have to change; a good employee should be flexible and adaptable.

Companies change management styles, corporate processes, policies, staff,  and company programs.

Millennials need to be able to handle change and roll with the punches to demonstrate their potential and their capabilities.

Never dealing with change can lead to stagnation; thus an employee will never reach their true potential for greater responsibilities.

Being adaptive indicates to an employer that you are able to adjust to changes in expectations, tasks or responsibility levels.

7. Humility

Humility is another important skill is one that I mentioned in a previous article. 

Graduating millennials often lack humility, and expect to earn the average income for that position. The average income for any position is determined based on both education and experience level.

Unfortunately, millennials are often faced with the reality that they have to accept a lower pay grade and eventually work their way up to the average income.  

Additionally, many graduating millennials expect their employers to trust them with higher-end tasks with little to no experience in that field.

Millennials have to be willing to temper their expectations and take every opportunity to gain work experience seriously.

A willingness to take on tasks that may seem below your education level will demonstrate your work ethic.

In turn, this could potentially lead to bigger tasks. Humbling oneself can help disseminate the stereotype that all millennials are entitled. This will prove you are willing to put in the work.

In order to be successful in the workforce, it is vital that millennials not only possess the technical skills needed to be successful in a role but also the soft skills. Any millennial that possesses both is well on their way to achieving a highly successful career.

What do you think? What has been your experience as a young professional in the job market? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.


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