APICS is the premier professional association for supply chain management.

The Power of Soft Skills

by APICS CEO Abe Eshkenazi CSCP, CPA, CAE |   2013 | 0 | 0

The picture that ran with a June 24 Associated Press story got my attention. It’s of a recent college graduate handing out his résumé to passing drivers in Philadelphia. The article, “Firms Seek Grads Who Can Think Fast, Work in Teams,” sheds light on the mystery of what employers really want in new hires__soft skills.

Businesses want to hire graduates who can “work well in teams, write and speak with clarity, adapt quickly to changes in technology and business conditions, and interact with colleagues from different countries,” writes Paul Wiseman.

These days, top companies like Rolls-Royce, BP, GlaxoSmithKline, and others want more than a nice résumé and pleasant interview. Some observe candidates in role-playing exercises, others look for people who have already had co-op or internship experience, and others organize contests to see how students solve problems and work in high-pressure circumstances.

Employers have “always needed people with specific technical skills,” Wiseman writes. “Those remain important, but employers want something more—the soft skills that determine whether recruits can get along with coworkers, articulate ideas, engage in critical thinking, and solve problems on the fly. In short, whether employees can make the transition from classroom to workplace.”

Sharpening your soft skills

Many of you in the APICS community know the association for its world-class Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM) and Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) programs, both of which validate important knowledge and experience in the field. APICS also offers valuable resources to professionals just starting out in supply chain and operations management and students considering a career in this area.

The APICS competency models are important career tools that are available free to the public. These models were developed to enable professionals to rank their hard and soft skills against other professionals and identify areas for improvement. Competency models are available for the following job titles: buyer/planner, distribution and logistics manager, master scheduling manager, materials manager, and supply chain manager.

Take, for example, the foundational competencies listed in the APICS Supply Chain Manager Competency Model. Personal effectiveness competencies include awareness of the needs of others, integrity, continuous learning, effective communication, interpersonal skills, and creativity. Now think about how this information could be an advantage to you__whether you are in the market for your first job out of college or making a move at the pinnacle of your career.

In addition, APICS 2013 features some excellent opportunities for students looking for an edge in their future careers. In addition to networking with supply chain and operations management professionals who can open doors, you can also participate in the APICS Student Career Fair, which enables students and APICS Scholars to connect with recruiters and interview with companies that are hiring talented young professionals.

No matter where you are in your career, I invite you to join us for APICS 2013, September 29 through October 1, 2013, in Orlando, Florida. For more information, visit http://www.apicsconference.org.


Questions for discussion

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