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Adolescents—especially those with special needs—are frequently at a disadvantage in competitive employment because they lack appropriate communication and social interaction skills. Adolescents often encounter problems when initiating interactions or responding to others. Studies have demonstrated repeatedly that good communication and interaction skills are essential for finding, getting, keeping, and holding a job.

Many employers today consider social behavior and good communication more important on the job than technical training. Employers also indicate that many employees lose jobs because of personality factors and the way they relate to people rather than because of inadequate performance of the job itself. Schools can help students be career-ready by including instruction in the social skills necessary for job success regardless of a student’s age, gender, qualifications, disabilities, or past school and work history.

There are many job-related social skills to choose from in developing a curriculum. The following are typical social skills found across various jobs and environments:

  • Ordering job responsibilities.
  • Understanding directions.
  • Making introductions.
  • Asking questions.
  • Asking permission.
  • Asking for help.
  • Accepting help.
  • Offering help.
  • Requesting information.
  • Taking messages.
  • Engaging in a conversation.
  • Giving directions.
  • Receiving compliments.
  • Giving compliments.
  • Convincing others.
  • Accepting criticism.
  • Responding to a complaint.

In all cases, specific attention should be given to applying the social skill to a specific job context.

In recent years, there has been increasing emphasis on social manners. For example, many students do not realize that taking personal calls or texting during work time, especially when interacting with superiors, usually is perceived as inappropriate and disrespectful. Selecting contemporary social skills such as these can help students be more successful on the job.

Job-Related Social Skills provides a complete curriculum on teaching social skills for employment. It also provides a framework for teaching additional social skills not covered in the curriculum.