Regardless of what your major is or if you graduated with honors, there are specific skills all employers are looking for in their new hires. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) 2013 Job Outlook report, although degrees and majors in demand may vary from year to year, the key skills and qualities that employers seek in their new college hires remains nearly identical year after year.
1. Verbally Communicate
In today’s world of text messages and social media, the ability to effectively communicate verbally is in decline, but is still in high demand. Start improving this skill by putting the smartphone away and engaging in conversations.
2. Make Decisions and Solve Problems
With the increase in standardized testing, there has been a decrease in the teaching of critical thinking, but this is still a skill employers are expecting of their employees. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and risk being wrong in order to solve problems.
3. Obtain and Process Information
Listening and understanding is an important part of success in the workplace. Employers are looking for someone who is able to understand directions presented to them in verbal and written methods, but don’t be afraid to ask clarifying questions if you are unclear of the expectations.
4. Plan, Organize, and Prioritize Work
Employers are looking for people who are able to effectively manage their time in the office. Practice developing this skill by utilizing organizing software or apps and making and completing “to do” lists.
5. Analyze Quantitative Data
Statistical analysis is what drives decision making within companies. Employees don’t need to be statisticians to be effective in their jobs, but they must be able to disseminate quantitative information presented to them to assist with problem solving in the workplace.
6. Understand Technical Knowledge
Every job will have specific hardware and software specific to that location and it is expected of employees to constantly learn and adapt to the new technical information presented.
7. Be Proficient with Computer Software
Just like the technical knowledge requirements, employees are expected to be proficient with the most common computer software applications (Microsoft Office for example) and be able to learn and adapt to new software specific to the company.
8. Create and Edit Written Reports
Effective professional written communication is vital in the office. Remember that all written forms of communication should be professionally composed, including text messages and emails.
9. Sell and Influence Others
In 1936, Dale Carnegie wrote “How to Win Friends and Influence People”. Over 70 years later, this is still one of the most popular references for business communication skills.
Think about which of these skills you do well and a personal example to support your claim. For the areas you need to improve, think about how you can start improving these skills and implement a plan to gain these skills. Keeping your nose in the books and graduating with a 4.0 GPA won’t cut it when you get out into the workplace.
Posted by Jennifer Edwards, Career Services Career Advisor