So-called soft skills are ‘personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people’. They’re the non-academic non-technical skills, the attributes and attitude that can influence how successful you are in all elements of life. However, they’re especially important in the world of work.
Right now, you might have lots of soft skills that your DofE has helped or is helping you develop, without even realising it. For example, teamwork, initiative, communication, commitment and problem solving. UK employers highly value candidates who are able to demonstrate that they have these skills which make them ‘work-ready’ – with 95% considering soft skills to be just as important as academic achievements. So, even if you have limited work experience, highlighting on your CV or application forms or during interviews that you’re motivated to work hard and have the ability to get on well with other people will put you one step ahead.
Each section of your DofE nurtures a different mixture of soft skills. For instance, to complete your Expedition section you need to work in a team but also be self-sufficient and organised, while in your Volunteering section you need to be reliable and compassionate with others. To improve your chances of getting a new job and thriving in your career, we’ve set out six easy steps you can follow to help identify which of these soft skills, along with other aspects of your DofE journey, will be most impressive to employers and university and college tutors:
1. Recognise – Take some time to think about all of the activities and events which have made up your DofE experience to date – perhaps write a list.
2. Reflect – Work through each of the points in your list and think about what you found most challenging, interesting or difficult and highlight experiences which were completely new to you. Consider how you used your skills to overcome a problem and influence a successful outcome.
3. Put yourself in your employer’s shoes – Think about what sort of soft skills and evidence your future employer, college or university might be looking for.
4. Match up your skills and experience – Match up your list of soft skills to the list of things you think your interviewer might be looking for as per the job description – not everything may be relevant.
5. Application and interview – As well as your list of achievements, think about what else an employer or tutor might be looking for from a CV or during an interview. Your written and verbal communication skills might be just as important as your past achievements.
6. Get help from other areas – Most people find it difficult to identify and talk about their own strengths and achievements. Get someone to help you go through this process. It doesn’t need to be someone with experience in career advice, just someone who can offer honest and objective feedback (e.g. friend, parent, teacher or your DofE Leader).
Don’t forget – you can also go Beyond the CV to help you with writing a CV and cover letter, preparing for interviews, discovering job opportunities at leading businesses and much more.