This Overlooked Skill Set Will Compound Your Success

Last week I was privileged to sit on a panel on creativity for AdFed Baton Rouge's Student Conference at LSU. One of the questions asked (and one that I asked myself) was, "which skills should I concentrate on learning and which aren't of much importance?"

The world is rapidly changing and, according to the Department of Labor, an estimated 65% of current students will be employed in job roles that haven't even been created yet. There's no doubt that this is a confusing time to make assumptions about which skills will be relevant 5 years after you graduate and which won't.

Thankfully, we don't have to make assumptions about what's known as soft skills — skills that leverage the hard skills and compound their return. Soft skills empower us to engage with people in a harmonious, healthy, collaborative manner. These include speaking, writing, design, persuasion, organization, conflict resolution, technical prowess, observation, networking, psychology, leadership and business.

Imagine that you're a chef — an incredible skill on its own — but you also understand the mechanics and psychology of leading your kitchen staff efficiently. You're a more valuable chef. Or an engineer who has a good grasp of design and business and can create groundbreaking products that solve customer pain points. You're a more valuable engineer. Without soft skills, your hard skills are still worthy of admiration and an incredible feat no matter how you slice it. But in a world full of people, run by people, for people, soft skills give you the advantage of making the complete package of you + your skill set more desirable over someone else with the same hard skills.

If you're unsure of what to pursue, don't worry! Take action and passion will follow. In the mean time practice organizing your class notes in a more understandable format or teach those notes to your classmates to overcome your fear of public speaking or sell those notes to learn about business or ask your teacher who they can introduce you to and expand your network. All of these soft skills are immediately actionable and will have a compounding effect on the rest of your life.