Hard and soft skills for career preparation: Participation and documentation

For future career success, hard and soft skills are learned during school in the classroom and through after-school activities. It is important for youth to be aware of the hard and soft skills they are learning and how to document the skills on a résumé.

Along with school participation, youth should engage in a variety of activities to help build skills to enhance a successful future. Learning in school and participating in after-school activities will help youth learn the skills they are good at and the skills they need for their career. Examples of after-school activities are sports, music (like band and orchestra), art, theatre, science clubs, business clubs, computer/technology clubs and 4-H. Having a part-time job is another activity that will help youth build skills and learn about the working environment.

The classroom, after-school activities and jobs give youth the opportunity to develop the hard and soft skills needed for success when they enter the world of work. What are hard skills and soft skills? As stated in a previous article “Hard and soft skills for career preparation,” Investopedia defines hard skills as “specific, teachable abilities that can be defined and measured such as typing, writing, math, reading and the ability to use software programs;” soft skills are defined as “the character traits and interpersonal skills that characterize a person’s relations with other people.” Communicating, conflict management, human relations, making presentations, negotiating and team building are examples of soft skills.

All of these activities that build hard and soft skills should be portrayed in a résumé. Michigan 4-H Youth Development provides a list of four types of résumés to help youth document their in-school and out-of-school activities with hard and soft skills. The types of résumés are chronological, combination, functional and electronic résumés.

Each type of résumé has a section for youth to highlight their skills. It is important for youth to highlight the soft skills as well as the hard skills. It is beneficial for potential employees when employers are able to see a variety of technical and non-technical skills on a résumé. Michigan 4-H Youth Development also provides an action verbs handout to help find the right words to highlight the hard skills and soft skills.

As adults, let’s do the following for youth from a career preparation perspective:

  • Help youth understand the importance of learning hard skills and soft skills as a result of going to school.
  • Encourage youth to participate in extra-curricular activities in-school and out-of-school to learn and put hard and soft skills into practice.
  • Teach youth how to reflect upon the hard skills and soft skills they possibly learned after a class or extra-curricular activity.
  • Teach youth how to document the hard and soft skills they learn for future résumés and portfolios.

Support career and workforce preparation by helping to create opportunities for youth to learn, participate and document the hard and soft skills they learn in school and extra-curricular activities.

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