What Employers Expect: Soft Skills - Guest Blog Post

By Jenny Castle, Senior Director of Human Resources for Atomic Learning & Versifit Technologies

In the words of best-selling author Peggy Klaus, “Soft skills get little respect, but will make or break your career.”

Technical skills are those you need to do your job, but soft skills are imperative for you to be successful in your job and in your career.  As a Director Human Resources, I know what employers are looking for—candidates with developed skill sets that are valuable no matter what industry or job you are applying for.  Soft skills, often called career skills, include skills such as working well with others, solving problems, critical thinking, decision making, attitude, professionalism and communication skills. 
These are skills that translate into real money for businesses. 
Imagine that you receive bad service at a business.  Will you return?  Will you tell others about it?  Now imagine that you are that business owner.  How does that employee impact your business?  How do you feel about them?  Now imagine that you are the employee that provided the service.  Do you think you’ll get that next promotion?  Will you still have a job?
In the Human Resources field, it’s commonly said that recruiters only spend an average of about 60 seconds reviewing an application.  Whether you are helping develop the young professionals of tomorrow or job hunting yourself—how do you ensure that a résumé stands out and makes it into the “yes” pile?

Falling Short? College Learning and Career Success

Take a look at selected findings from Online Surveys of Employers and College Students Conducted on Behalf of the Association of American Colleges & Universities by Hart Research Associates, the overview reads:

The majority of employers continue to say that possessing both field-specific knowledge and a broad range of knowledge and skills is important for recent college graduates to achieve long-term career success.

Why are so many college students failing to gain job skills before graduation?

A Washington Post article discusses today's college graduates severely lacking in some basic skills, particularly problem solving, decision making, and the ability to prioritize tasks.

In a pair of surveys by the Association of American Colleges & Universities, would-be graduates said college armed them with the skills needed for the job market. But employers disagreed.


Don't become a statistic, prep your students with the skills they need to be career-ready after graduation. Atomic Learning's career skills training provides training on a variety of topics that aren’t necessarily covered in course textbooks or workplace orientation. This training is designed to help learners gain the confidence and traction that is needed in today’s workplace. Not an Atomic Learning subscriber? Learn more.

[Infographic] The Missing Piece to the Skills Gap Puzzle

The infographic below shows us both sides of the job seeker/employer skills gap story. On one side, you have job-seekers who are finding it hard to get hired after graduating college. On the other hand, employers are finding it hard to find good, skilled employees.

You are probably thinking to yourself, now what? How can we close that skill gap? How can colleges and universities ensure that their graduates are career-ready?

Easy. By offering training on specific, in-demand skills that employers want. Atomic Learning can help job seekers learn the skills they need to be workforce-ready, with highly-relevant topics, including:

Interested in learning more about providing these online career skills training courses to your campus' faculty, staff, and students? Request more information today.

INFOGRAPHIC: 2015 Workforce Readiness Survey

A recent infographic from McGraw Hill shows how students may feel ready for college, but when it comes to feeling prepared for the workforce, the rate dramatically drops.  Luckily, we here at Atomic Learning are striving to make sure that this is not the case. With our vast library of resources, students not only have access to job-hunting tools such as Interview Techniques and Creating Digital Portfolios, but also personal development tools, like Goal Setting and Decision Making, and communication training on Negotiation, Conflict and more! Students are also able to build up their resumes with a vast library of how-to training.

Are your students prepared for the workforce?


Managing Your Time During Summer Break #ALsummersession

As the expression goes, “time flies when you’re having fun”—and if summer is one thing, it’s fun!

Make sure you don’t miss out on all that this summer has to offer with these online resources. To get started, simply login using your institution's method of access and check out the links below—it's that easy!

Effective Decision Making Training
Have a lot to do, but not much summer left to do it all? Weigh your options and prioritize appropriately with this online resource. And, if you're still undecided about what you can and can't fit in, there's even a video on "Perils of Indecision"...cue dramatic music!
Learn about Effective Decision Making!

Time Management Training
Summer is flying by. Don't waste the precious time you have left! In this online training, you'll learn how to take control of your life in practical and realistic ways that you can implement right away—including insights on how to combat procrastination!
Learn about Time Management!

Effective Meetings Training (Yes! Meetings!)
We know what you're thinking...Effective Meetings!? It's still Summer! However, the skills that are needed to conduct effective, efficient meetings also apply to life outside of a conference room. Check out this online resource for insights on getting things done!
Learn about Time Management!

Not an Atomic Learning subscriber? Request more information.

This article is a part of an Atomic Learning special blog series dedicated to keeping the learning going all summer long by helping you learn something new with quick personal development tips!

Are you providing flexible training opportunities for faculty/staff/students?

One of our weekly giveaway winners recently shared how much she appreciates Atomic Learning's just-in-time training.

"I really enjoy Atomic Learning's wide range of subject options and the ability to digest the content in small blocks of time," Bernice Morrissey, Wheaton College, Norton, MA.

We all want more time, right? Atomic Learning offers an on-going opportunity for faculty, staff, and students to learn when and where they need it. Our vetted digital content helps instructors focus on the core subject, instead of spending valuable time teaching the technology.

How can you save time with Atomic Learning? With:

  • 24/7 Online Training – When and Where you need it!
  • Blackboard training – Saves valuable class time!
  • …and more!

We even have career skills training on Successful Time Management and Time Management Basics! Log in and take a look. Not an Atomic Learning subscriber? Request more information.

6 Ways to Be More Persuasive

We can't always get our way, but sometimes, a little persistence goes a long way.

In a recent article on 6 Ways to Persuade Without Being Pushy best-selling author Kevin Daum shares not only his own insights on how to persuade others to your way of thinking, but those of five fellow thought leaders—all of which we thought were worth sharing.

1. Show them what they want and need.
Often, talking through a point gets lost. People have a strong inner voice that defends their point of view and blocks out words from the persuader. Circumvent that process with visuals. Charts, graphs, or even cocktail napkin sketches can get people to see things in a whole new light. Get creative. Given the time, you can even use your smartphone to create a simple and engaging persuasive video.

-Kevin Daum

2. Share positives and negatives.
Sharing an opposing viewpoint or two is more persuasive than sticking solely to your argument. Very few ideas or proposals are perfect. Your audience knows that; they know there are other perspectives and potential outcomes. So meet them head on. Talk about the things they're already considering. Discuss potential negatives and show how you will mitigate or overcome those problems. People are more likely to be persuaded when they know you know that they have misgivings. So talk about the other side of the argument... and then do your best to show why you're still right. 

-Jeff Haden

3. Be inquisitive.
It's like the old story of the wind and the sun arguing over who could get a man's coat off. The wind blew and blew, but the man just wrapped the coat tighter. That's exactly how being pushy works. After the wind failed to blow the coat off, the sun simply shone and the man took it off by himself. The best way to influence someone is to align what you want with what they want, which means you have to start by understanding what they want. And one good way to find that out is to ask them. 

-Minda Zetlin

4. Find a good reason.
The best way to be persuasive is to be able to answer this question: What's in it for THEM? When you ask someone to do something, you've got to also give that person a reason for doing it that's in their own best interest. When you've got a good reason, then you won't have to be pushy--you'll automatically be the King (or Queen) of Persuasion. 

-Peter Economy

5. Take yourself out of the equation.
The art of persuasiveness is influential to success and requires confidence. If you go in desperate, your proposal won't fly. You must first take yourself out of the equation: how and why is this decision beneficial to the other party? What about the people they care about: their team, family, or customers? Once you have these two answers covered consider what you're up against. Your idea or offer has to be better than the other options available to them. If it's not, go back to the drawing board, don't exaggerate the value, promise unrealistic deadlines, or do anything else to jeopardize your integrity and reputation. Lastly, look them in the eye, be patient with objections, and let them know that you care. 

-Marla Tabaka

6. Be helpful.
Much is written on the topic of persuasion--when to say just the right words to close an important deal or how to move others to your way of thinking. In my experience, the true secret to being persuasive is to simply be helpful. The ultimate goal of persuasion is to have the power to influence others. Providing knowledge and connections freely makes you a go-to resource. If others seek you out to solve their problems through your network and knowledge, you are in the perfect place to persuade them and convince them that you or your company is the solution to their problem. 

-Eric Holtzclaw

Looking for additional insights? Check out Atomic Learning's online courses on Persuasion & Negotiation and The Art of Influence, both of which are a part of the Career Skills training collection included in most campus-level subscriptions.

Don't have access to Atomic Learning? Request more information.

Managing Your Time Successfully

If you want to get something done, give it to a busy person.


Do you agree? How do you effectively manage your time? or do you? This visual we found online gives some interesting time management facts. It's good to know we're not alone, but how do we fix these habits? Atomic Learning offers Career Skills training that might help; take a look at the Time Management Basics course and Successful Time Management Training.

Don’t  have access to Atomic Learning? You can request more information about how to access these training courses, projects, and more.