How Technology Helps us Quickly Master New Soft Skills

skillsLast April LinkedIn made a big splash when it purchased Lynda.com, an online learning company, for $1.5 billion.

You may not have heard of Lynda, but the company been around since 1995 helping users learn software, creative, tech and business skills via online video. Available to both individual users and through corporate and school subscriptions, Lynda may be the antidote to the looming Millennial skills gap.

When the Educational Testing Study released its findings last year, many hiring managers were unsurprised:

Millennials were found to be falling further behind their global peers in numeracy, literacy, and problem-solving in tech rich environments.

Of course, this fed into the many Millennial stereotypes, and gave the online anti-Millennial trolls more to talk about. But it isn’t just hype; our younger generations face severe challenges, especially around workplace communication.

At YouTern, we choose not to worship a problem or advance stereotypes; instead, we like to find solutions. So we looked into Lynda.com in more depth…

Technology May Have Created the Skills Gap

One of the most common complaints about young people in career settings is that they cannot disconnect from their technology; phones, tablets, and now wearable tech are constant distractions. Not only in business meetings, but in JOB INTERVIEWS – we’ve heard countless stories of Millennials answering phones or texting during a conversation. Now, we understand that this is not merely a Millennial problem; older generations also have tech addicts. And all of us could benefit from putting our devices down and focusing on what’s in front of us.

However, as much as technology may be to blame, it can also be the salve for our communication problems. Lynda.com offers thousands of courses, from Web Design to Photography. But we want to zero in on the Communication Courses. Right now the site offers 2,208 video tutorials over 104 Communication courses. They cover all sorts of topics, including Business Ethics and Working Remotely, an increasingly common aspect of American work life.

One of the videos that intrigued us is Strategic Negotiation; in our last Blab episode of The Answer Zone our founder, Mark Babbitt, gave an impassioned talk about taking ownership of our own careers, and negotiating what we want out of a career is essential at nearly every juncture. Sadly, negotiation is rarely taught in school.  In Mike Figliuolo’s course on Lynda, he aims to teach how to assess situations and choose a negotiation style, and he also details the entire negotiation process.

Free Technology is Out There

Lynda.com isn’t free; the standard package is $24.99/month for an individual. With many of the videos bringing a lot of substance, it’s worthwhile if you can afford it. If you don’t have the time or money to commit to Lynda, here is a list of other free sources to improve your soft skills:

  • Free Management Books offers a host of free eBooks focused on improving communication skills. Their offerings cover written communications and active listening, as well as many other topics.
  • Mindtools.com also offers a range of free, online methods to improve communication skills. You can start with taking their short quiz to gauge your current skill level.
  • Free Video Lectures offers a few courses on English grammar and better spoken English that many people could profit from taking.
  • WizIQ educates users on what soft skills are and why they matter, and is a great place to start if you don’t know where you specifically need improvement.
  • Udemy offers a course on how to develop soft skills to help “get things finished” that is also a free course.

Why Soft Skills Matter

Digital natives and super tech-savvy folks may think all the talk about soft skills is much ado about nothing…

But you won’t find many truly successful people who lack them. As Babbitt often says, “the job search today sucks, but that’s no excuse for not finding a great job.” Having soft skills, especially during the interview process, is crucial to getting the job you want, and to negotiating the terms of that job!

The need for negotiation will rear its head many, many times during your career. Being able to communicate the soft skills you’ve mastered, and how those skills make you the perfect candidate for the job, is one of the most useful arrows in your career quiver. Get started today, and get your next job or internship that much faster.

 

Amy TobinAbout the Author: Amy McCloskey Tobin is a content strategist and creator. She specializes in generational insights, the future of work, the remote workforce, workplace diversity, and how tech has changed the business world. Amy has worked with major online publications to develop content and content strategy. A devotee of social media, Amy believes firmly that great content begets social media community. Find Amy on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter!

 

 

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