Identifying Critical "Soft Skills" for an Academic Career

An Exploratory Study


  • Jennifer Branch-Mueller
  • Dinesh Rathi
  • Crystal Stang



Soft Skills, Academic Work, School Library Faculty, Doctoral Student Preparation


This study examines the soft skills required for work as a faculty member, doctoral supervisor, and academic administrator. Nine faculty members working in the area of school libraries were interviewed to better identify gaps and ways to improve doctoral degree programs. Participants shared the following soft skills: advocacy skills, active listening, advising skills, understanding of equity, diversity and inclusion, leadership skills, time management skills, social justice stance, work life balance, building and maintaining relationships with colleagues, networking skills, and presentation skills. The participants noted that their doctoral programs prepared them for some of their work in the Academy with graduate research and teaching experiences, mentoring, networking support, and formal coursework. Participants developed some of these soft skills from work as teachers and school librarians/teacher-librarians.