Corner Element

About Us

Placeholder ImageCareer Focus was created to help prepare Lane County students for college and careers. Technological advances and global competition have transformed the nature of work. Tomorrow's jobs will require more knowledge, better skills, and more flexible workers than ever before. Tomorrow's workers must be prepared to change jobs and careers several times, continually updating their knowledge and skills. To prepare today's students for tomorrow, Lane County schools are working to help students achieve in challenging subjects. One key approach to this goal is to provide students with relevant contexts for learning. Career Focus identifies educational pathways, career opportunities, regional work experiences, and other opportunities to better prepare youth to succeed...whether in the classroom or on the job!

Soft Skills a key to employment today

Placeholder ImageToday's competitive job market means that minimum acceptable skills are being replaced with higher standards.  And among the higher standards are what many call "soft skills." A soft skill refers to the cluster of personality traits, social graces, facility with language, personal habits, friendliness, and optimism that mark each of us to varying degrees. Persons who rank high in this cluster, with good soft skills, are generally the people that most employers want to hire. Soft skills complement hard skills, which are the technical requirements of a job. The ideal, of course, is someone strong in both job and personal skills, but as one employer put it in a recent report, "Hard Work and Soft Skills:"

"Don't worry so much about the technical skills. We need you to teach them how to show up on time, how to work in teams, and how to take supervision."

There may be no easy way to train for soft skills; the basics stem from early childhood and the family environment. A list of some of these appears in the following list. To this must be added the ability to sense what is required in different environments and to learn quickly by watching those around you who are the most successful.

It's always hard to comment on deficiencies in soft skills because they are close to the center of one's ego. When recruiters turn down candidates, they often are unwilling to cite deficiencies in soft skills and may point to something that is off the mark. A student may say, " I was turned down by XXX Company which says it doesn't hire liberal arts graduates," when I know it isn't true. To the recruiter it may have been kinder than saying, "We don't want you because you are too sloppy, too nonverbal, or have some other negative trait." But it didn't do much for the student's appreciation of his or her educational background.

Soft Skills

Work ethic

A motivating belief that employees owe their employer a full day of diligent work including following their supervisor's instructions.

Courtesy

The habitual use of "please," "thank you," "excuse me," and "may I help you?" in dealing with customers, supervisors, and colleagues.

Teamwork

The ability to share responsibilities, confer with others, honor commitments, help others do their jobs, and seek help when needed.

Self-discipline and self-confidence

The ability to arrange one's own tasks for best performance, to learn from experience, to ask questions and correct mistakes, and to absorb criticism and direction without feeling defeated, resentful, or insulted.

Conformity to prevailing norms

The ability to govern one's dress, grooming, body language, tone of voice, and vocabulary according to the particular culture of the given workplace.

Language proficiency

The ability to speak, read, and write standard English in a businesslike way. One may have the "hard" skill of knowing what usage is correct and what is incorrect but lack the "soft" skills of knowing when to use only standard forms and in what tone to use them.