Millennials, GenZ, and Soft Skills

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soft skills

Millennials, GenZ, and Soft Skills

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Somebody once said, “You hire for hard skills and fire for soft skills.” Most people and organizations who have made the investment to hire, certainly don’t want to spend the time and money to replace an employee. Does the millennial and GenZ (Gen 9/11, iGen) population lack soft skills?

Working Across Generations

There seems to be an abundance of opinions surrounding the differences of values and beliefs when working across the generations. Some are likely true, some are likely ill-founded, and still others may be true, but only for some individuals, not all. A popular view of differences between the youngest generations and those who have been in the workforce for some time is that younger generations are doing many of the same things as those who have come before them, they are just doing those things later in life.

There is much evidence of this trend. Consider first jobs, first cars, and first time home buyers. You can also consider the average age of those getting married and the average age of those having children. This seems to be substantiated as nearly every traditional, boomer, or gen X person will agree. Of course it is not absolute, not everyone is in this same place of doing similar things, only later, but many agree there is a trend.

Soft Skills Dilemma

Technology has certainly changed our lives. In world where we are attached to our cell phones, live with mild to severe cases of nomophobia, and sit in small groups paying more attention to our devices than to the person beside us; are the newest generations building soft skills?

Arguably every generation has found a path for communicating, but for more recent generations that path has changed. Traditionals and boomers learned to read body language, monitor the flow of the conversation, and find ways to figuratively read people, long before they entered the workforce. Today we might refer to some of this as emotional intelligence, a soft skill.

Once upon a time interactions were dependent on people, now the interactions are sometimes more dependent on technology. If traditionals and boomers learned much about soft skills before entering the workforce it could mean that todays workforce is coming up short upon entry. In many cases, our daily interactions with people have shifted more towards interacting with a cell phone or a computer.

Many jobs require people to interact (live, face-to-face), brainstorm, and solve problems. People working in groups also face challenges such as differences of opinion, conflicting values, and various interpersonal styles.

So it might beg the question, are the more recent generations rich on hard skills, but short on soft skills?


Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker, and coach that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is the author of the newly released book, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

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April 12, 2016at 6:21 am

The greatest soft skill we have is to realize happiness for ourself and all in our awareness 🙂

Make Everyday A Happy Day 🙂


    April 12, 2016at 10:33 am

    Our outlook and mindset have a lot to do with our success. I agree, being happy is important.

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