Focusing on Soft Skills

Here you are, studying hard for exams, working hard to learn the law and earn good grades.  Good grades = good job, right?  If only it were that simple.  Just like your college and law school applications needed solid grades and a list of extracurricular activities to show you were “well-rounded,” employers are looking for candidates with not only legal knowledge, but also what Human Resources officers refer to as “soft skills,” or emotional intelligence.  To learn more about how employers identify emotional intelligence, check out The EQ Interview: Finding Employees with High Emotional Intelligence.

Peggy Klaus, author of The Hard Truth About Soft Skills — Workplace Lessons Smart People Wish They’d Learned Sooner (2008), offers a quiz  where you can test your soft skills.  She identifies six major soft skill categories: managing yourself, communication, organizational savvy, self promotion, dealing with differences, and handling others.  You can, of course, read the recommended chapters of her book, but you may also be interested in some additional resources available here at BU that can help you become a more effective professional.

Managing Yourself

  • The Results-Driven Manager: Managing Yourself for the Career You Want: A Timesaving Guide (2004) (Pardee Management Library HD38 .R414 2004)
  • ABA Basic Guide to Punctuation, Grammar, Workplace Productivity, and Time Management (2012) (Law Reserve KF 250 .K73 2012)
  • Real-World Time Management: Second Edition (2008)
  • Why Not?: How to Use Everyday Ingenuity to Solve Problems Big and Small (2003) (Pardee Management Library HD 30.29 .N35 2003)


  • The Art and Science of Communication: Tools for Effective Communication in the Workplace (2008) (Alumni Medical Library HF 5718 P451a 2008)
  • Why Didn’t You Say that in the First Place? How to be Understood at Work (1994) (Mugar Storage – Use Request Form)
  • Talk at Work: Interaction in Institutional Settings (1992) (Mugar P95 .T28 1992)

Organizational Savvy (AKA Office Politics)

Self Promotion

Dealing With Differences

  • Working with Cultural Differences: Dealing Effectively with Diversity in the Workplace (2008) (Pardee Management Library HF 5549.5 .M5 B74 2008)
  • Type Talk at Work: How 16 Personality Types Determine Your Success on the Job (2002) (Pardee Management Library BF 698.9 .O3 K68 2002)

Handling Others

You will encounter situations at your summer jobs that will allow you to reflect on your efficacy in each of these areas.  Remember that no one masters soft skills; we’re all continually trying to improve our abilities in each of these areas.  Please take advantage of the resources available here as you learn the “softer” side of the profession.