If you have been keeping tabs on education, you know that a student’s ability to get hired post college graduation is a growing concern. A CBS reporter quoted a recent graduate as commenting, “They said, ‘You get a degree, and you’ll get a job. You are going to be a step ahead of everybody,’ and that really hasn’t been the case.”
In an age that stresses “content is king,” it is imperative as teachers to consider the advice of Laszlo Bock, who is tasked with hiring for one of the most successful companies on the planet…Google Inc.
In his interview, Bock gives five qualities that he looks for when he hires for Google. As educators, it is wise to reflect on these when we look at the biggest picture of what we are trying to do in our classrooms…successful preparation for life. Bock stated that “there are five hiring attributes we have across the company,” and I would like to summarize his thoughts below:
- General cognitive ability, and that does not mean the IQ of a person. It is the ability to learn. “It’s the ability to process on the fly. It’s the ability to pull together disparate bits of information.” This speaks to the how of thinking as opposed to the what of thinking.
- Emergent leadership over traditional leadership. Traditional leadership is more about the roles one holds: president of this club, leader of that project. Emergent leadership is more about the attitude of leadership: “when faced with a problem and you’re a member of a team, do you, at the appropriate time, step in and lead. And just as critically, do you step back and stop leading, do you let someone else?”
- Humility, the ability to accept a better idea and successfully move forward with it, to not always have to have the ideas that people embrace, but rather embrace the challenges of failure while not throwing others under the bus. “It’s intellectual humility. Without humility, you are unable to learn.”
- Ownership is an attribute that Bock ties very closely to humility. Ownership is taking responsibility for a problem-solving opportunity but yet also knowing when to step back when a more effective idea is presented. “Your end goal,” explained Bock, “is what can we do together to problem-solve. I’ve contributed my piece, and then I step back.” Think collaboration.
- And in conclusion, and maybe somewhat surprisingly, Bock mentions expertise as the final element of the five.
I often have blinders on when I teach in my classroom and not fully realize that what I teach in the classroom, and how I teach it, is training for what I deem important for a later point when a student gets hired.
What is important to notice is that soft skills head up the list as four of the first five. And of all that occupies our thoughts as teachers, this one should be right at the top: what is going to best prepare my students to be game-changers in this world and to be sought after by employers? I think Bock’s observations are worthy of consideration.
Community Input: What do you do to develop these soft skills in your students?