In a Forbes article, The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) was featured for a recent study they had completed. The association is a non-profit organization which links college career placement offices with employers. In their pre-Fall semester survey, they asked hiring managers to ascertain what workplace skills they prioritized in the college graduates that they hired. According to the survey, the number one skill that employers wanted to see in their new hires was the ability to work effectively in a team. The second preferred skill is the ability to make decisions and creatively solve problems. Proficiency in online skills and social media know-how is also important in today’s workforce. However, sometimes getting back to the basics can move a candidate further ahead in the resume process. This article will discuss the top ten skills that employers are looking for in today’s young college hires and how to prepare to get hired.
Top 10 Skills Young College Hires Should Cultivate for Professional Growth
1. Aptitude for working efficiently in a team
2. Capability to make decisions and solve problems
3. Skilled at planning, organizing and prioritizing projects
4. Capacity to effectively communicate verbally with others
5. Ability to acquire and process information proficiently
6. Aptitude for analyzing quantitative data
7. Technical knowledge specific to the job requirements
8. Proficient skills with computer software programs
9. Ability to write and edit reports and documents
10. Capability to sell to and persuade others
Putting the Puzzle “Skill-Pieces” Together to Get Hired
There is good news for recent graduates. Regardless of your field of study, the majority of graduates have proficient talent in the first five skills from the list. As you begin to put the puzzle pieces together in the skill building department, it begins with demonstrating those skills in the following three areas:
1. Cover letter
The cover letter is very important. It can help you to stand out from the crowd of prospects in a positive or negative way. Don’t be seen as an uncreative “cut and paster.” Prospects who duplicate their resume in the cover letter only waste a prospective employer’s time and less information is more. If you don’t know the specific person to address, don’t list anyone as the receiver; not even “To Whom It May Concern”. It is best to save the cover letter as a PDF file and not a .docx or .pages file since most people have no issues opening a PDF and the other two files can have conversion issues. Remember to close the cover letter with a strong ending which showcases a summary of your experience and worldview which will help you at the job. Resume Cover Letters offers free templates for downloads, samples of professional cover letters and tips on writing such letters.
The resume is equally as important as the cover letter. It is sort of like an advertisement of your skills, experience and achievements in the hopes that you can match those up with the requirements of the job you want. There are four basic steps involved. The first one begins with formatting the text for the document. The generally recommended format is 11 – 12 point in Times New Roman. Setting the page margins is next with a 1” margin and 1.5 – 2 point line spacing. Creating a heading is the next step with your name in a 14 – 16 point font. The final step is to decide on a layout in one of the following formats: chronological (work experience), functional (skill-set) or a combination. All three formats should also include your achievements. Resume Templates offers free templates for download as well as tips for writing them.
The interview is the culmination of the process. It is important to be prepared and arrive on time with a copy of your resume and perhaps your career portfolio with you. Dress for success and wear professional attire and adhere to proper grooming etiquette. Maintain upright posture as well as good eye contact with the interviewer during the interview. Don’t be afraid to have confidence and showcase your personality, provided you avoid “going over the top” in your behavior. USAToday.com lists 10 Steps for a Successful Interview.
Resources for Learning How to Improve Your Employability Factor
The ten skills that most employers are looking for in prospective hires are sometimes innate, and other times learned ones. So how do you go about learning to improve your skillset in those specific areas? The following is a listing of some resources that young college hires can utilize to improve their “employability factor.”
1. This article shares some tips on How to Learn Skills You’ll Need to Know When You Graduate. Some of the skills listed are learning how to become more independent and assertive as well as teachable and a critical “outside the box” type of thinker. Being open to learning new ideas and skills is one of the most valuable traits you can ever bring into the workplace.
2. MindTools.com is a great online resource which is a perfect tool for career minded individuals to learn and grow as a professional. They offer a short five minute Quiz: Testing Your Skillset at their website. You can ascertain if you have what it takes to develop leadership skills and become a valued team member and contributor in the workplace.
The NACE survey clearly defines universal skills that most employers are seeking in their prospective hires. If you pay attention to every opportunity that comes your way in both your educational and workplace experience, you will have the chance to continually improve your skillset. In order to complete the perfect puzzle, you need to showcase your skillset across the board during the three part process of the cover letter, resume and interview. As this article shared, there are various resources online which can assist you in developing those three pieces to the puzzle and increasing your value as a career-minded professional.
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