Forget about hard skills and soft skills. What you need to stand out in the working world are power skills

6 minutes
Written by: Ruth Martín

Aaahh, university. That wonderful meeting place for people with diverse interests, for the exchange of crazy (and not so crazy) ideas for different projects and ventures, and a pivotal place where many of the future professionals and leaders of our society are trained and prepared.

But college is not all picking subjects and hopping from one class to the next until you pass your exams. It’s no longer enough to simply memorize your notes like a robot and get a certificate.

Don’t misunderstand us, getting an education and acquiring technical knowledge is important. But it’s become more and more imperative to possess a wide range of power skills that’ll allow you to make yourself at home in any professional environment, or in roles which don’t even exist yet.

Keep reading to find out what power skills are, which ones are the most important, and how you can activate them day by day to help you stand out in the professional world.

What are power skills and how are they different from hard and soft skills?

X skills, Y competencies, Z capacities … If there’s one trending topic in schools and educational institutions, it is the development of the skills needed for the professions of the present and, above all, of the future.

But before we enter the exciting world of power skills, let’s talk for a moment about the other types of skills that complement them: hard skills and soft skills.

Hard skills

Hard skills are ones that can be learned in a course, training, or book. In other words, they are the technical skills needed to perform a job. They are usually technical in nature and can be measured against an objective standard.

Soft skills

Soft skills, on the other hand, are more subjective and difficult to measure; they are also more difficult to teach. Some examples are interpersonal skills and those related to emotional intelligence

It is important to have them and to develop them, but there are other types of skills that are more highly valued in the working world and focused on specific sectors or jobs. These are known as power skills.

Soft skills become power skills

Let’s say that power skills are the more work-oriented version of soft skills, and are composed of the skills that are essential for getting a specific job that you really want.

However, although they are an ‘evolution’ of soft skills, power skills are not skills that are developed overnight, and it will not be enough to carry out a simple exercise to activate them. The good news is that they can be fostered day by day, through small actions repeated over time.

Why you need to activate your power skills ASAP

Power skills are important because they demonstrate that you have the knowledge and experience necessary to perform your job. Power skills not only help you succeed in the working world, they will also make you a more employable and compelling candidate to other companies.

This means that even if you’ve just landed in an industry or job, having well-developed power skills will help you level the playing field with other people applying for the same job as you, even if they have more experience or academic qualifications. 

The most essential power skills and how to develop them

Communication

Your ability to communicate effectively with others, both verbally and in writing, will score you many points. Not only in class presentations, but also in future job interviews and work environments where dealing with people is a must.

You can start developing this skill right now: keep an eye out for seminars or courses offered by your school on writing and public speaking. They can be very useful! And…

  1. Become a good listener. If you listen carefully to others, you will soon gain their trust.
  2. Use positive body language. Make eye contact, smile, and show that you are interested in what they say, especially when they express their opinions.

Want to start practicing? Put everything you want to say in a video presentation like this one and add your own voice or an audio to explain each slide and give more context. This way, you’ll practice adapting your message to the presentation time of each slide. 

Or, if you prefer, practice with a pitch deck:

To make sure you’ve got everything under control, here are some tips on preparing your presentations so that they go smoothly. 

Teamwork 

Teamwork involves the ability to work with others toward a common goal. The best way to develop your teamwork skills is through practice. The more group projects you do and the more you get involved, the better! But always bear the following in mind:

  1. Focus on team goals rather than individual goals.
  2. Conflict is inevitable, but you can always decide how to deal with it. So deal with it constructively! 

Leadership

Have you ever felt like you could inspire others and get them on board with your vision and goals? If so, great! You already have a good dose of leadership running through your veins. In any case, leadership skills can be worked on, and you can leverage your likes and dislikes to do so. 

Look for associations related to your interests in your school and participate in them. You’ll meet new people, have fun, and, without realizing it, you’ll be preparing yourself for your professional life. The experience you gain in these types of activities will be highly valued by companies, as it shows initiative and enthusiasm. To do so: 

  1. Become an expert in your area of interest. Learn your strong and weak points and work on them.
  2. When you communicate with others and participate in activities together, try to keep your messages consistent. Make sure that what you say and what you do line up. 

And while you’re at it, why not start activating your leadership skills right now? Create an interactive business card to make yourself known to the other members of all the activities and associations you join. At the very least, you’re sure to inspire them to create content as amazing as yours.

Planning and effective time management

Good planning and effective time management are essential for success in both college and work.

  1. Create a calendar that outlines your weekly goals and tasks, and break down each large task into small steps to make them more manageable. 
  2. Prioritize tasks according to their importance.
  3. Delegate tasks whenever possible; don’t try to do everything yourself! It’s impossible, and you’ll burn yourself out. 

You can use a process checklist like this one. It comes with the necessary space for you to describe each task and its steps, and you can include resources to help you complete the process successfully!

Problem solving 

If you develop your ability to solve problems, no matter how complex they may seem, no challenge will get the better of you. 

  1. Start by identifying the problem clearly and precisely. Break the problem into smaller parts.
  2. Pose several potential solutions and evaluate them. Choose the best one based on factors such as feasibility, effectiveness, cost, etc. Choose an action plan and go for it!
  3. And finally, do a final check and see what worked best or if you would approach the problem differently next time.

Remember that in Genially you’ll find different templates for organizing information and making it easier to understand, like comparisons, concept maps, or summary charts. Put your brain to work until you become a problem solving whizz! 😏

Flexibility and adaptability to change

Life and the working world are constantly changing and shifting, so don’t get left behind! Learn how to deal with change successfully and sail smoothly through any situation. To do this:

  1. Try to do things differently. Use your creativity and don’t be afraid to think outside the box.
  2. If something doesn’t go according to plan, don’t get discouraged. Consider changing plans when necessary. 

Remember: you’re not going to activate and deploy all your power skills to the fullest between here and next week. The idea is to go about integrating the power skills naturally with your personality and your way of thinking, being, and acting. But, of course, the sooner you begin, the sooner you’ll reap the benefits.

Ruth Martín
Ruth Martín
If you don’t get it wrong from time to time, it means you’re not learning enough
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