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Stop for a moment and consider this: You can get a four-year college degree and still not have the skills that will land you a job in your chosen field.

It doesn’t matter what industry. Employers are scrambling to find people who can demonstrate competence in what are known as “soft skills.” This is because they can train you on the “hard skills” – the specific knowledge required for a particular job. They expect you to already know the “soft skills” – your interpersonal people skills that help you interact with coworkers and customers. Here are the top soft skills you should develop by the time you’re ready to leave high school.

Flexibility

This is the most important soft skill a prospective employer will look for in a potential employee. Things change fast in business. Companies are looking for people who can help them by quickly adapting to new situations. It might be caused by new technology, or by a new customer need.

Being a Good Communicator

You might have struggled over an English essay that explained the theme of “Heart of Darkness.” The good news is that you probably won’t need Joseph Conrad’s epic story in your working life. But, you do need to be capable of clearly communicating the WHO/WHAT/WHEN/WHERE/WHY of what’s happening on the job.

This soft skill isn’t just all about talking or writing. You’ve also got to prove that you’re able to be a good listener. Have you ever been curious about what your body language communicates to others? That’s a part of this soft skill, too.

Resourcefulness

“Just tell me what to do” is not something any employer wants to hear from an employee. A job is a partnership. Employers look for people who can display effective problem-solving abilities. Does this mean you already know the answer?

Resourcefulness is a soft skill which has a lot to do with attitude and approach. A resourceful person looks at a problem and might say, “I don’t know the answer, but I can certainly find out!” The best part about developing this soft skill is that it helps you with confidence – which is something employers also look for. It’s not cockiness, but it is self-assurance. It shows you’re capable, and it allows supervisors, coworkers, and clients to trust in what you have to say.

Life Experience

Being able to act as a team player, creative thinking, and the ability to accept and apply feedback are also soft skills for which employers look.. These are all abilities you can, and should develop, as you make your way through school and prepare for a career.

If you’re flexible, a good communicator, and resourceful, you’ve got a firm foundation. You’re extremely valuable as a potential employee. All that’s left is to learn the specific hard skills that allow you to successfully do the job. People who choose to follow a career in the trades as a plumber, electrician, or HVAC technician actually get paid to learn these hard skills through apprenticeships.

These are well-paying jobs that have proven to be mostly immune to downturns in the economy and they’re practically impossible to outsource or be replaced by robots. Could it get even better?

It can. There’s a growing need for these crucial jobs. They’re important to keep our homes and offices running, but there aren’t enough people to fill the current open positions. And, there’s a 14% projected job growth potential over the next few years.

What’s wrong with these jobs? Absolutely nothing. They’ve simply been overlooked. Is a career in the trades right for you? Take this quiz and find out.