JOB SEARCH / FEB. 15, 2015
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Top 3 Skills Employers Wished Millennials Learned in College


If you’re born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s, you’re a Millennial, part of that group known as Generation Y. The generation that knows what a cassette player is and what VHS stands for. Indeed, every generation has their own nuances and quirks. Unfortunately, some of those quirks can cause clashes when it comes to keeping up with later generations. 

Our world is progressing at such a rapid pace, new skills are constantly needed and created. And that means there’s a lot that becomes out-dated. It’s difficult to keep up-to-date, and colleges often struggle to meet the needs to the ever-changing workplace. 

Here are the three top skills that employers wished Millennials learned in college:

1. How to Code

Computer programming has been described as the most important skill for our current generation. It is also one of the most neglected. 

Paul Bassat, co-founder of SEEK made the comment, “I’ve got kids—one in year 12, one in year 11, one in year 9—and all three of them are going to leave school without learning how to write a single line of code. I find that truly extraordinary.”

Written illiteracy has always been frowned upon. That’s increasingly the case with computer illiteracy—it is said that by 2020 there will be well over 1 million jobs in the US that will rely heavily on computer science skills. Yet the inability to understand basic computer programming skills is only rising. 

Seeing the major need, England recently became the first country to make computer programming a compulsory school subject, from when they enter school at age five right through to high school. In the US, only one in 10 US schools teach students how to code.

For adults that have left school, many governments and employers are encouraging participation in part-time and privately taught courses. 

2. Social Intelligence

Technology is causing people to live their entire lives behind a computer screen, and the most ‘social’ interactions are being received through Facebook and other online platforms, which is extremely detrimental when it comes to in-person interaction. 

Social intelligence is the ability and skill to engage, cooperate, and communicate effectively with others. Or, simply put, being “people smart.” Interacting in ways that makes others comfortable is essential in any career. You’ve heard the phrase, “It’s not what you know, but who you know,” social intelligence is the bridge for building those important relationships. 

While some Australian education departments are leading the charge in implementing social learning into classrooms, it is still a neglected subject worldwide. 

Harvard has created a tool to test and improve your social intelligence here.

3. Cognitive Reappraisal 

Workdays and workplaces can be unpredictable.

Cognitive reappraisal is the ability to reinterpret any situation and change the trajectory of your emotional response. It’s a skill rarely taught in colleges, but extremely relevant for the workplace and for life. A common and effective reappraisal is to see a rude co-worker as “just having a bad day.” It sounds too simple, but studies have shown that in most situations, a simple reframing technique reduces cortisol levels which control your stress and anxiety levels. 

The ancient school of Stoicism built much of their teaching on it, Marcus Aurelius said, “If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”

To practice cognitive reappraisal, modern psychologists say that emotional awareness is where to start. Begin observing your own emotions and label them as if you’re a reporter. Go through some of your experiences during the day, and see how many different ways you can perceive them.  You can even make a game of it. Pretend to see things from another person’s perspective. 

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