The Recipe for Career Success: Technical Skills + Soft, Interpersonal Skills

“This curriculum is about expanding the way people think about their job roles.”

—P.K. Agarwal, Dean, UCSC Silicon Valley

Despite an essential economic and whole-hearted pursuit of technological mastery, one thing remains true—having top tech skills is only as valuable as your ability to communicate effectively and work well with others.

You need strong soft skills to compete in today’s rapidly changing economy.

“As the world around us changes, you need to ensure that you have the interpersonal qualities needed for success in the workplace,” says P.K. Agarwal, UCSC Silicon Valley Professional Education dean.

A New Soft Skills Digital Badge

UCSC Silicon Valley debuting a new self-directed, online soft skills course this month. It’s for anyone who wants to improve their job marketability. Participants explore soft skill topics, reflecting on what it takes to grow in each area. They complete quizzes and submit a video elevator pitch to earn a digital badge and 0.5 continuing education units—all at no cost.  

“The course goal is to help you get job-ready or become more successful in your current job,” Agarwal says. “This curriculum is about expanding the way people think about their job roles.”

What Are Soft Skills?

Soft skills are personality traits that contribute to the success of our relationships with other people. Are we cognizant of social graces, the words we use? Do we practice integrity, empathy, professionalism, and an optimistic attitude in our personal and professional life?

To earn the UCSC Silicon Valley soft skills badge, you work through 10 key skills identified as particularly valuable in the workforce.

The short program helps you cultivate self-awareness both professionally and personally.

  • Communication and Presentation
  • Critical Thinking
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Collaboration
  • A Friendlier Attitude
  • Conflict Management
  • Time Management and Organizational Efficiency
  • Networking
  • Adaptability
  • Work Ethic

“These skills have a tremendous impact on our work relationships and allow us to better use and grow the hard, technical skills,” Agarwal says. In his own life, his training as an engineer sharpened his problem solving skills and ongoing personal growth developed his soft skills.

“Over the years, I learned that the ability to listen to others, to communicate and network effectively, to adapt to a rapidly changing work environment is key to becoming an effective leader,” Agarwal says.

In fact, researchers from top academic institutions such as Harvard, Stanford, and Carnegie Mellon, have found that 85 percent of job success stems from having well-developed soft skills while only 15 percent of job success comes from having technical skills and knowledge.

The Value of Soft Skills to Your Career

Indeed, many studies have found that having good soft skills improves your career opportunities, according to David J. Deming, in a National Bureau of Economic Research article.

Yet the majority of employers say they have difficulty finding these qualities in potential new hires. Nearly three in four employers say they have a hard time finding graduates with the soft skills their companies need.

“Many employers would rather hire people with strong soft skills and then train them on hard skills,” Agarwal says. 

Employers often point to a lack of agility as their top concern. How do people keep up with the rapid pace of change without agility or other high demand skills such as critical thinking, creativity, and self-awareness?

“Once you have strong soft skills, these become a unique differentiator in getting the right job or your next promotion,” Agarwal says.

And, you’ll be ready for the job market in one of these top, most in-demand jobs.

Interested in Diving into Our Soft Skills for Success Program?

Visit our Career Services page to learn more.

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