The 3 Essential Soft Skills School Didn’t Teach You For Career Success

*This is the show notes for the Money In Integrity Podcast presented by worklifemoney.co*

As an adult, it’s so funny to look back on all the things you learned in school but can’t remember or don’t use on a daily basis. On the other hand, when you are an adult, it seems like you are expected to know all of these skills for your career that school never taught you.

When we talk about skills, it’s easy to only think about the tangible skills that school teaches us and limited soft skills like teamwork (throwback to all of those group projects) and communication (i.e. class projects). However, while these skills can help you excel at your job; school doesn’t teach you the essential soft skills to get a job or having a successful career.

There’s so much more complexity in developing essential soft skills than just being able to do something, there is a layer of developing soft skills that have to come internally. And nurturing that part of yourself and navigating the personal growth behind developing soft skills is something school does not teach. 

In today’s episode, I am going to be talking about the 3 essential soft skills you need to master for career success. Even if the school didn’t teach this to you, that’s what the Money In Integrity Podcast is for!  

 

1. Being Productive By Overcoming Procrastination + Perfectionism

The one thing school doesn’t teach us how to overcome procrastination. If anything, it can encourage and reward people who are high achievers and keep procrastinating. The timeline was given by school – the tests, assignments, etc. are created for the median development level. However, school doesn’t really evaluate you on the effort you put into assignments, only the results. If you studied last minute on a test, you are praised for it. If you study very hard on a test, but still didn’t do well, you are shamed for it. School teaches us to derive success on results, not effort, which unfortunately is limiting because everyone eventually comes up against something they are not “naturally” good at.

This is a common problem for people who are high achievers/perfectionists. Because we always judge our growth on the result, it’s easy to overlook the effort that you need to put into it because we don’t want to be seen as a “try-hard.” In school, if you said you studied really hard on a test but failed, it was seen as shameful, but if you said you studied on your lunch break an hour before the test, you were seen as “cool” because you are naturally smart.

As Brene Brown described:

“Perfectionism is the belief that if we do things perfectly and look perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgment, and shame.”

And at the end of the day, that’s all perfectionists want, to not feel judgement or shame, and this mindset results in procrastination because we don’t 

You might not want to start a side business because you are scared you will fail. So you procrastinate. 

  • You might not want to tell anymore you are looking super hard for a job because you are not getting any interview offers. So you procrastinate. 
  • You don’t want to ask for help in your network because you don’t want to say something potentially embarrassing so you procrastinate. 

When people think about time management or procrastination, they solely look toward tools and hacks. But the root cause of procrastination is deeper than having the right planner because all of the tools and hacks eventually get pushed aside if you don’t address the shame. 

Procrastination can look like doing busy tasks that don’t actually propel you forward in your career. Finding the right colour scheme for your resume will not help you find the perfect job (I’ve been there!), but we love to have that idea because it feels comfortable. If I told you informational interviews, networking, working with a career coach will actually 10x your job search, you might believe it, but you won’t apply it because it’s a lot more scary and shameful if you can’t find something tangible to blame for your career growth like your resume. 

In career, this is very prominent in job search and job applications. Between resumes, cover letters, interviews, etc. looking for a job can feel like a 2nd part-time job. 

If you are looking for a personal growth and job search tool, make sure to download my FREE job application tracker! 

 

2. Marketing Yourself.

School teaches a lot of things. A lot of facts, a lot of concepts, and a lot of knowledge, but it never really teaches you how to sell those skills.

It’s so easy to feel like you are thrown into the wolves when it comes to job search and often people rely on the outdated resume advice they learned once in a high school class. 

More than that, many women are taught not to “brag” about their accomplishments and are actually penalized for doing so and that leaks into the job search. As a career mindset coach, I see a lot of skilled women not only struggle with finding a job, but the self-confidence to brag on their own resumes. 

Learning to sell yourself is one of the most important skills that you will ever develop for both your personal and professional life. And if you’re like me, the thought of selling yourself feels kind of….icky. You might feel sleazy bragging about yourself, and developing that self-confidence is very difficult because it was never necessary. 

Depending on your school, you really never had to market yourself. Our grades were sometimes posted at the back of the room, the Principal’s List was also printed for anyone to see (if you got a certain GPA), and even when you go to university, you only have to slightly market at yourself because your test results, grades, extracurriculars, and references will demonstrate that are qualified for a certain school university. 

However, that’s not how it operates in the job market. Most people don’t care about your grades, especially the longer you leave school; hiring managers care about your experience, your skills, and the results you bring to the team. And only you can tell that story. There is no one comparing all of the people they are interviewing for them; they can only base their decision on what your resume says, what you say in your interview, and possibly your test results with the company. If you achieved something great in your career, but you don’t market it, no one will ever know. 

But I’ve learned that marketing isn’t about bragging about yourself, it’s about showcasing my achievements to demonstrate that I’m right for the role. Being able to confidently market yourself and effectively communicate your skills impressively and comprehensively is definitely a skill. And it takes getting used to.

Marketing is what separates smart and hardworking people from smart, hardworking and successful people in the workforce. There are definitely people out there that are less qualified than you but have more successful career simply because they can market themselves. Developing self-confidence in marketing is a essential soft skill that school doesn’t teach you and is a significant factor in how successful your career will be. 

 

3. Career Management 

No one will care more about your career than you do. In school, we are so used to people giving us the road map of what to do next. And while that can be helpful at the beginning, it’s so easy to continue to rely on that map and expected result, but that’s not what happens in the workforce.

It is up to you to decide what you want from your career and to go for it. No one is there to do it for you, and no one should. Determining what kind of career and lifestyle you want comes internally and it’s your responsibility to seek out those opportunities. 

Career looks like knowing and executing career decisions. No one tells you when to quit when to get promoted, if you should go to grad school, etc. Of course, there can be opportunities that arise or circumstances that force you to make a career decision, but there’s no one forcing you to do it. This is why so many people have mid-career crises or wake up to dead-end careers. Because if you don’t take ownership of your career no one else will force you to. 

Taking ownership of your career is really important because it’s important to create a career that works for your work, life, and money balance. Two people in the same career can have completely different experiences because of their life circumstances, personality, and financial needs.

And that’s why it’s so important to learn how to manage your career, not based on what other people do because the results and needs can be very different. And to truly work on this, be sure to look into 1:1 coaching because procrastination, self-confidence, marketing, and decision-making are essential soft skills I work with my clients 1:1 to reach their dream careers.

It can be so easy to only rely on what school teaches us, but once we enter the workforce, the environment is not the same, and it’s so important to learn how to be adaptable to it because personal growth is a repeatable process that you can apply to different stages of your career and life. 

Essential soft skills are not limited to communication and teamwork. Productivity, marketing, and career management are really important skills to learn for yourself and others.

 

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