This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Marvin Rey Espino. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Five Essential Soft Skills You Need For Jobs In A Post-Pandemic World

Soft skills are different from hard skills in a way that soft skills are universal and more difficult to measure. Hard skills, on the other hand, are more specific and easier to assess. For example, nurses should be able to draw blood, that’s a hard skill. It’s a trained skill, and it’s easy to know if they are doing it right.

But apart from the ability to draw blood, nurses should also effectively communicate with co-nurses, doctors and patients. That one is a soft skill. Again, it’s universal in a way that nurses are not the only ones who can learn it. But it’s more difficult to measure how effective is someone’s communication skills.

Now, soft skills are seen as less important than hard skills. That’s because most employers think anyone with the right hard skills should be able to perform their duties whether or not they can relay information well or are trustworthy enough. In fact, it doesn’t help that soft skills are named “soft”. It implies that these skills do not make as much impact as their hard counterparts.

But do they make less impact? Studies have shown that the level and number of someone’s skills ultimately determine their economic success. Not only that, soft skills are purveyors of better relationships across organisations, something which no hard skill can achieve.

Now we’ve seen that soft skills are as important as hard skills. In fact, they could even become more important this pandemic. Job loss has multiplied in the past year due to so many businesses closing down. And it’s become more difficult to find a job now more than ever. So, if you’re trying your luck out there, brush up your soft skills and highlight them in your next interviews.

Even if you’re not looking for a job, perhaps pay attention to how you develop these soft skills and make time to acquire more. So that in the next unlucky phase of job loss, you’re prepared.

Here are some of the most important soft skills you should be improving this pandemic and beyond.

1. Time Management

Time management is always important. As more people jump to freelancing, and almost everyone works from home, proper time allotment has become all the more necessary.

For freelancers, allotting time to work is essential as some of them get paid on an hourly basis. So, not only will they know how much time it takes to finish the task, but it’ll also prevent them from overworking or get paid less.

And for the rest of the employees working from home, time management sits at the forefront. So many distractions, like phones, TV and domestic affairs can prevent a work-from-home employee from getting the job done. And it’s only through proper time allotment and scheduling what’s work and what’s play that an employee can efficiently work while at home.

2. English Writing

Writing in your native language is an essential skill, of course. Being able to connect with colleagues in your native language through Slack and emails promotes cultural connection and collaboration, and avoids miscommunication when using a different language. But in a globalised, and especially post-pandemic world, writing in English has become a prized skill.

English is the predominant language of the Internet and the international scene. Because companies want to target a huge population pool, writing in English is a good way to connect. And companies are searching for employees who can frame emails in English, write blog posts in English, and create social media captions in English. And not just write, but it has to sound professional and be free of grammatical errors.

Freelancers can harbour more clients when they can write for foreign clients, and not just local clients. This means they need to have better correspondence in English. Even many non-native English-speaking clients choose English as the bridging language.

This pandemic has blurred physical boundaries. Because face-to-face office setups are less preferred, more employers are considering hiring foreign workers. And to make the cut, one should able to write effectively in English.

3. Collaboration

Collaboration is an important skill in the workplace. But the way we collaborate has gone from physical to online over the past few years. Separated with great distances, technologies such as Zoom and Google Meet have helped us collaborate on work projects.

A post-pandemic world will test this skill even more. More people will need to jump online and manoeuvre the technology available, such as screen recording and using Zoom and other video conferencing tools to communicate and exchange ideas.

Apart from maximising digital tools, this practice of collaborating will require intense patience — and of course, the ability to forge professional connections with colleagues while working.

4. Creativity

This pandemic forced everyone to brush up their creativity skills. Huge job losses made some people start their own business, and in doing so, they are forced to become more creative, especially those without design experience. Being able to craft a logo, a website, a Facebook page, slogans, take pictures of products or market the service through flyers and posters — these skills are crucial in getting a small business up and running.

For employees, creativity is a soft skill that can make or break a company’s bottom line. Creativity leads to better solutions. Creative workplaces can cut off workload while maintaining efficiency. To be able to create something out of nothing takes effort. Employers want their people to be creative, so it produces better ideas and positive results.

So in becoming more creative, you don’t need to become a master painter or designer. But you need to break the monotony of daily tasks for a while and create something new. Whether that’s an essay or slogan, it sure does help you practice creativity.

5. Verbal Communication

Speaking with friends and family is one thing, but talking with colleagues is another. Being able to relay information effectively, accurately and professionally takes real practice. In fact, sometimes, it takes years of awkward miscommunication before someone gets better at speaking at work.

These are the skills employers nowadays look for. Interviewers look for this ability from the start. Only those who speak better get hired. Those who communicate well get their boss’ approval. And those who talk well gain their colleagues’ trust. So, speaking well can get you so many wins in the work field.

In an English-dominated work space, verbal communication gets all the more difficult for non-native speakers. While you can get by speaking to colleagues of the same language, you might struggle to communicate with a foreign client or a partner.

This pandemic has upped the chances of mixing people with different tongues. And because English is now a global language, non-native speakers have no other way but to become better communicators of the language. The good news is that English-speaking abilities can be learned. So as early as now, you should brush up your speaking skills so you get better chances of getting hired should the next unemployment status come.

The bad news is that it takes time and effort. You need to set up a schedule when you actively use the language — say apps or friends who speak good English.

Final Thoughts

Now that you realise that soft skills are as important as hard skills, now is the time to update your resume. Make sure soft skills are just as standouts. And be ready to memorise instances where you get to use those skills effectively. For example, there was a time when you collaborated with a person in the marketing team to design a poster. The boss approved the poster and it garnered several engagements on-site and on social media.

Another example is when you demonstrated the ability to write well in English while creating an explainer post on the website. After doing so, there were lesser bounce rates but more conversions.

This post-pandemic, a lot of employers would look for applicants who can not only do the job well, but also foster good working relationships with their colleagues.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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