Monthly Archives: November 2015

Social Skills Key Now and in the Future

Will robots (or more accurately, automation) replace human workers? Probably not… at least not yet. Still, plenty of machines continue to perform tasks once reserved for humankind. But they still cannot do one thing that people can: work well with others.shutterstock_77075764_NOV2015

Positions that require social skills have been responsible for nearly all job growth since 1980, according to a working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research. The research maintains that hard-to-automate jobs will continue to call upon that most human of abilities—people skills.

People skills include the ability to communicate effectively with wide array of people, work productively with various personalities, build relationships, and empathize. More jobs today are calling for workers with such skills, especially people who can collaborate and show flexibility.

These skills also seem to lead to higher earning potential regardless of education and cognitive abilities. Additionally, the more a job requires interaction with others, the greater the need for advanced social skills, the research indicates.

Social skills, soft skills, and emotional intelligence are often cited as keys to success. In fact, the ability to communicate and collaborate well—in other words, social skills—continue to be named as top desired characteristics in workers. Until technology can come up with an app that can collaborate and communicate, people who can demonstrate their ability to negotiate the human terrain of interpersonal relationships will be highly sought.

Discussion questions

  1. Why do you think employers continue to value the ability to collaborate?
  1. What are three things you can do now that will enhance your ability to communicate and work well with others?
  1. Given that employers need workers who can communicate well, why is writing important?

–From the Harvard Business Review

Use Bullets for Surefire Reader Comprehension

[Instructors: Use the PDF version of the assignment and key found at the end of the post.]

Good writers pay attention to how their prose appears on a page or screen in addition to how it “sounds” as it shutterstock_308044331_NOV2015is read. Large, dense blocks of text can discourage readers. Breaking up text using bulleted points makes prose more scannable, and therefore, less intimidating to readers.

When you write a paragraph that could be broken up by using bulleted points, follow these rules:

  • Use bulleted points only to highlight items that do not require chronology; numbered lists are used to show sequence.
  • Begin a bulleted list with a sentence (called a stem or lead-in statement) that explains the list’s overall theme. Alternatively, list bulleted points under a separate heading that forecasts the section’s topic.
  • Write bulleted points using parallel construction—match verbs with verbs, nouns with nouns, phrases with phrases, questions with questions.
  • Capitalize the first word after the bullet only when the bulleted points complete the sentence stem or when the bulleted points are just one or two words.
  • Choose one bullet point style per document and use it throughout.
  • Use a period at the end of a bulleted point that is an independent clause or a sentence; do not use a period at the end of a bulleted point that is a fragment, word, or phrase.
  • Keep bulleted points on the short side, no longer than two or three lines.

Your task. Rewrite the following narrative paragraphs by changing listed items into bulleted points.

  1. The media have given us some of their own occupational slang, like “sound bite,” but trendy clichés usually come from occupations and professions. So business has given us bottom lines, deep pockets, and downsizing. The military has given us bite the bullet, in the trenches, breakthrough, and flak. Engineering gave us parameters, state of the art, leading edge, and reinventing the wheel. Athletics gave us team players, ballpark figures, level playing fields, and track records. Politics is the home of charisma, spin doctors, bandwagons, and momentum. The self-help movement gave us trendy clichés like self-actualizing, holistic, meaningful, one day at a time, and wellness.[1]
  1. Unadvertised or “hidden” jobs may make up as much as 80-85% of unfilled openings, according to Fred Coon, a licensed employment agent. To uncover hidden jobs, Coon suggests those entering the workforce to join industry groups. Associations, chambers of commerce, or Toastmasters are great ways to make contacts before you need them. Coon also suggests talking to insiders. Insights from those already in the industry can help new workers learn how to best chart their career paths. Another way to find hidden jobs is to search company websites. Many companies only post openings on their corporate websites.

Suggested revisions.

  1. The media have given us some of their own occupational slang, like “sound bite,” but trendy clichés usually come from occupations and professions:
  • Business: bottom lines, deep pockets, downsizing
  • Military: bite the bullet, in the trenches, breakthrough, flak
  • Engineering: parameters, state of the art, leading edge, reinventing the wheel
  • Athletics: team players, ballpark figures, level playing field, track records
  • Politics: charisma, spin doctors, bandwagons, momentum
  • Self-help movement: self-actualizing, holistic, meaningful, one day at a time, wellness
  1. Unadvertised or “hidden” jobs may make up as much as 80-85% of unfilled openings, according to Fred Coon, a licensed employment agent. To uncover hidden jobs, Coon offers some tips:
  • Join industry groups. Associations, chambers of commerce, or Toastmasters are great ways to make contacts before you need them.
  • Talk to insiders. Insights from those already in the industry can help you learn how to best chart your career path.
  • Search company websites. Many companies only post openings on their corporate websites.

BulletsExercise              BulletExer-Key

[1] Source: Kilian, C. Writing for the Web. 2009.