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Enhancing Employability Skills of Students

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By Dr. Shahid Amin

A knowledge sharing program was recently organized by the ICFAI group. The theme chosen for the program was role of teachers in enhancing the employability skills of the students. The program started with the discussion whether job or career is ideal for our students? The unanimous answer was that job may be temporary and something that is performed to meet the basic needs (paycheck, salary etc.). Career means working with passion and in the end, your work experience and education is leading you somewhere to achieve fine objectives in your life. Career is something that is for a long term.


Another question asked to participants was what are the most important skills for our students to attract employers? There were mixed responses as some teachers’ preferred soft skills more over hard skills while others considered hard skills as important skills. But one thing that everyone agreed to was that both skills are complementary to one another and you can’t grow on work with technical skills and lacking soft skills and vice versa. Our students can find the skills below that they can understand and master to survive in the job market.

Hard Skills- Those skills revolve around our professional knowledge and are learned in the classroom, through books or other training materials, self-learning, informal education, internships, observing, and listening or on the job. Technical skills denote the knowledge and understanding for the job and to what extent job seekers will be able to perform the work given effectively and efficiently. It means degree and skills in the required field.  In addition to the exact job-related skills, other skills that can be classified as technical (or hard) are, for example–certificate courses, proficiency in a foreign languages, knowledge of important tools, computer skills etc. Nowadays knowledge is more accessible than ever before – all thanks to the internet and digital revolution. We can learn something new every day with the availability of online courses and free articles. Today we have vast availability of knowledge related resources online but it is up to our students how to utilize their time and the availability of online resources.

There are situations where recruiters seek specifically highly-qualified experts for the top positions, but job seekers technical skills always don’t necessarily have to be excellent. However, it is important for job seekers to highlight the experience and what skills they possess and are attempting to master. This will give a clue to recruiters that the candidate is indeed an ambitious candidate and has thirst for a new knowledge. Recruiters give priorities to those candidates who are fresh-thinkers and eager to learn as they can benefit immensely from them.

Soft skills- Recruiters have started preferring soft skills as new reasonable criteria for differentiating candidates. If any recruiter has one to select from two promising candidates for the position and both candidates possess the same professional experience and the set of technical skills – the thing that will help the recruiter make a decision is soft skills of candidates. That is what separates adequate candidates from the ideal ones.

Soft skills are subjective skills and popularly known as interpersonal skills. Soft skills denote to what an extent our students are a team material and can perform the work creatively and timely.  Soft skills that should be highly focused include communication skills, confidence, leadership, motivation, patience, listening, empathy, persuasion, problem solving abilities, teamwork, time management, flexibility, high work ethic etc. Today it is hard for recruiters to find employees who will sustain with the organization for a longer period of time. When candidates show their potential, curiosity, and eagerness to learn recruiters with a good eye perceive them as an asset that just needs a bit more grinding and training. If you are indeed a right candidate that needs a chance to gain a bit of more specific experience, your technical skills will be less preferred in comparison to your ideal soft skills.

Our job seekers, before their interviews need to pin down their strengths, outline their technical and soft skills, and define what makes them a desirable candidate. With such a huge flow of students aiming for the same jobs now, one should be clear with that why he/she should be given a job? They need to be at the top of their game, and try harder to leave a good impression in interviewers’ mind. Grabbing the interviewers’ attention will be the first big challenge for our students. Once students seek the interviewers’ attention – they get a chance to be heard. When job seekers attend an interview, they must remember that this is the first chance to exemplify their skills to the prospective employers.

Job seekers need to be very professional, shake hands, make eye contact with the interviewers, listen closely to the questions and answer them fully and precisely. They must also understand their curriculum vitae or resume first and be well equipped with the documents and supporting evidence when they face the interviews. They must not let the gadgets (smart phones, tabs etc.) distract them and their makeup should be simple and elegant. They must avoid too much perfume and it should not be distracting to the interviewers. The rich skill set of students (both hard and soft skills) will be a priority but knowing about a company’s past and current will be always appreciated by the hiring managers. Our students must not give up if they are not able to secure the job. Not securing the job doesn’t always mean that the students who face interviews lack potential. They may be rejected because of not fitting in the different requirements of the organization. It is always better to take this rejection as a new learning experience and be ready for a next big opportunity. Our students must know that time has changed now and doing things the old way is simply not good enough. They need to be proactive in order to succeed. It is important for our students to develop as a good brand and market themselves in an efficient way.

(The author is Assistant Professor, ITM University Gwalior. He can be reached at: [email protected])