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A 2013 survey by the Workforce Solutions Group at St. Louis Community College found that more than 60% of employers say applicants lack “communication and interpersonal skills” — a jump of about 10 percentage points in just two years. A wide margin of managers also say today’s applicants cannot think critically and creatively, solve problems or write well. Another study by American Express found that more than 60% of managers agreed that soft skills are the most important factor when evaluating an employee’s performance. The consensus is that current college graduates are deficient when it comes to the interpersonal skills needed for employment. These statistics confirm the necessity for honing your speaking and writing skills while attending college/university.

Here is an abbreviated list of valuable attributes:

Communication

It is no coincidence that the 1936 book How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie has sold over 30 million copies. Mr. Carnegie initiated a self-help program where attendees could learn the importance of interpersonal skills. Over 8 million people have taken Dale Carnegie courses, including Warren Buffet at the age of 20. Recently, according to the Mitchell Communications Group, miscommunication costs businesses $37 billion in the U.S. and U.K. every year. On the other hand, organizations that learn effective communication are nearly five times as likely to retain the best employees. Studies show that social and communication skills rank among the most important areas management wants to develop among their employees.

Teamwork

There is a term called the bus factor. This is a measurement of the risk resulting from information and capabilities not shared among team members, from the phrase “in case they get hit by a bus”. The term was first applied to software development, where a team member might create critical components. This creates a major problem when this vital information is not made available to other team members. Particularly when the autonomous employee is “hit by a bus,” metaphorically speaking. This may be an extreme scenario, however it emphasizes the importance of the team concept. The sharing of information and collaboration within a team is crucial for its success. One business survey reported that 86% of executives identify ineffective collaboration and communication as a major cause of failure in business.

Problem-Solving

Regardless of the line of work your degree may take you, as an employee you will encounter problems that necessitate solving. This is a two-step process that entails reasoning and solving. By reasoning, you examine the problem and determine the best solution. Secondly, you must be able to communicate the solution in terms the audience can understand. Solving problems has generated a slew of consulting firms devoted to solving clients’ problems. As a participant of a work group, instead of accepting the status quo, you can take a proactive role in solving problems. This requires creativity and ingenuity, which are also valuable assets within the workplace.

Prioritize

Colleges do not teach prioritization and companies do not generally bother to instruct employees on how to effectively prioritize. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Job Outlook for the Class of 2014, the ability to plan, organize, and prioritize work is ranked as the third-most desirable quality in a new hire. This ranked behind the capacity to make decisions and solve problems, and the disposition to work in a team structure. In today’s business environment where employees receive multiple assignments at once, they are left to their own discretion as to which should take precedence. To be more productive, the solution is to learn to focus on the priorities of tasks, then plan to complete them in order of importance. In order to be a master of this skill, you must also learn effective time-management.

This report has referenced the opinions of business managers, thus if this is your intended profession, these reports may be of benefit from DegreeQuery: 15 Top Degrees for the Highest-Paying Business Careers; Top 15 Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Human Resources Management; Top 10 Highest Paying Management CareersTop 10 Affordable Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Business Administration.