Are you building the job skills that employers seek? In a survey from Gallup-Lumina Foundation, only 13 percent of US adults say college students are job-ready, even though college students believe otherwise. Students are often left floundering when making the transition from college to the workforce.
To fully harness your potential to land one of America’s 1.5 million entry-level jobs, it’s necessary to ramp up your critical 21st-century skills. To do so, the National Association of Colleges and Employers has identified eight competencies that are essential for career readiness.
How fit are your skills in these areas so far?
Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
Whether you’re an accountant responsible for interpreting important figures or a customer service representative dealing with a disgruntled client, developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills will give you a jump-start in your career.
Critical thinking skills are needed for every college student to overcome problems using knowledge, data, and facts. You should be capable of exercising good ration and reasoning to make decisions and analyze issues. You also need to be inventive, creative, and original in your thinking.
Oral and Written Communication
The ability to articulate thoughts clearly and communicate effectively is another skill you’ll need to master to succeed in the workforce. After all, you may find yourself presenting to a boardroom, schmoozing with a client, or training a new employee in the future.
Whatever the task, your ability to express ideas, identify the best style of communication, and speak in public will be crucial for you to be job-ready. While you’re there, why not brush up on your body language knowledge? It could be the finishing touch to nailing that job interview.
Collaboration and Teamwork
Perhaps you sigh at the thought of doing a group project in college. But these projects are intended to develop your teamwork skills. After all, communicating isn’t the only thing you need to do in the workforce. You’ll also have to work closely alongside other employees and clients.
And you won’t just need to manage the good relationships, but also the bad. Financial advisors have to deal with demanding clients, and nurses must learn to effectively navigate hospital hierarchies to get their work done.
You’ll need to build collaborative relationships across diverse cultures, races, ages, genders, religions, lifestyles, and viewpoints. Developing your teamwork and collaboration skills will help you in the long run.
Many jobs require knowledge of physical or digital tools. Leveraging digital technologies efficiently to accomplish goals is another critical skill you need to acquire. You may be a master at Microsoft Word after typing essays, but that’s not enough for your resume to get noticed.
Consider topping up your technical job skills by practicing using project management software (great for keeping track of your college assignments!) or learning the basics of a programming language. If you’re seeking a finance career, data analysis tools or valuation models will be the best fit.
Taking part in some micro-courses and upskilling programs for different software may also be worth it. It looks great on a resume and may give your career the kickstart it needs!
The ability to lead isn’t just for drill sergeants — being approachable and using interpersonal skills to manage others is a critical skill you must develop. In the future, you could take the lead on a team project, or end up managing an entire team.
Transitioning to a career requires you to assess and manage emotions to drive work. Remember that employers aren’t always just looking for someone to fill the current vacant role, but also for people who can grow with the company. That’s why it’s vital to start early.
So how can you show that you’re a true leader? Get involved in campus organizations, or volunteer to take on more responsibility with an extracurricular club or sports team. Your college may even have a dedicated leadership center for training and mentoring students.
Professionalism and Work Ethic
The days of sleeping through the morning and maybe attending a lecture in the afternoon are over once you get your first job. Be prepared for early starts, long days at the bottom of the ladder, and dealing with deadlines.
Employers are looking for staff who’ll get the job done, and in many cases, go above and beyond. In some cases, that might mean ditching your weekend plan to submit a legal report or volunteering to take on new projects.
Demonstrating personal accountability and having effective work habits like punctuality and time workload management are pivotal to landing a good job. But not everything is tangible: you’ll need to show personal ethics, diligence, and empathy to boost your professional work image.
Being offered a job doesn’t mean that it’s automatically the right one for you. Depending on what you study, you may think that it won’t be easy to get a job. However, that doesn’t mean you should take the first opportunity that crops up.
You’ll need to be able to apply, evaluate, consider, and negotiate for every job or promotion in your future. Being able to successfully manage your career from a short, medium, and long-term perspective is necessary for long-term success.
For instance, if your goal is to be a graphic designer, it is not enough to just get a degree in graphic design. You also have to stay competitive in the job market. Hiring managers are often impressed with candidates who have a strong sense of who they are — both personally and professionally.
Global and Intercultural Fluency
Technology has made international work culture increasingly possible, so it’s vital that you feel comfortable in global settings. Even if you don’t think you’ll end up in a job that will have you traveling the globe, you may end up with colleagues from other countries, cultures, races, and religions.
Teachers have to communicate with parents who have immigrated from other countries, a computer analyst may end up working with another team based in Asia, and a logistics officer could end up with clients from all around the world.
Learning to be open, inclusive, and respectful is necessary for the modern workforce. Get involved in the international community at your school, or even better, take the opportunity to go on a student exchange! It boosts your resume and will give you lifelong skills.
Don’t wait to graduate to find out that you lack the skills you need to get a job. With the list above, you know precisely what employers are looking for and how to stand out to HR.