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Are you ready to find a job? Ranking of a list of soft skills to enhance graduates’ employability

Unemployment data and a fast-changing environment have elicited reflections about the skills and personal traits required to face the increasing complexity brought by the ‘glocal, liquid and networked’ world in which workers operate. Several definitions and categorisations of the ‘soft skills’ are present in the literature, but there is a lack of scientific research on the topic and very few studies have been able to contribute significantly to the discussion on the practitioners’ side. A literature review addressing and structuring this issue is presented in this article and the authors propose a preliminary list of relevant soft skills to enter the job market in order to lay the foundations for a comprehensive conceptual study. As a first step, a pilot study was carried out to validate the list of 22 soft skills. It was ranked and validated by a panel of Italian HR managers. Results confirmed that the development of soft skills is a top priority on the agenda of Italian HR managers and, in particular, teamwork, communication, results orientation, and learning skills (9%) are felt to be primary skills when assessing young graduates.