As spring semesters wrap up on college campuses, senior students are looking to the future. What employment opportunities await after the the diplomas are handed out and caps thrown in triumph? What important skills learned in the past four (or 5 or 6) years are more applicable to real-world employment than others? Will their major of choice give them the employment options they hoped for?
Of the global population, only 6.7% hold a college degree as numbered by a 2014 Harvard study. So possessing that degree will open numerous career opportunities that might have otherwise been off limits. Human Resource departments and hiring managers often rank resumes immediately based on the level of education: Masters and above first, Bachelors next, then those without a college education.
But is the degree all that matters?
The National Association of Colleges & Employers (NACE) conducted a survey asking hiring managers for a list of the top ten skills they look for in recently graduated job candidates. While the emphasis in recent years has been to push graduates to stick to computer and technical skills, the newest list shows that employers are actually seeking critical thinking skills the most.
The top 10 skills that employers are looking for are:
- Being able to work in a team
- Being a decisive decision maker and problem solver
- Being able to organize, plan, and prioritize
- Communicating verbally with people inside and outside an organization
- Being able to obtain and process information
- Ability to analyze quantitative data
- Possessing technical knowledge related to the job
- Proficiency with computer software programs
- Ability to create and/or edit written reports
- Ability to sell and influence others.
These skills—most of them considered soft skills—are key to working well and adapting quickly into any company or position. The top 3 skills (teamwork, critical thinking, and efficiency) could be gained in obtaining just about any major, and can be applied to any job sector from the sciences to humanities.
Do you have some or all of these skills? If you have a degree, then most certainly you do. What’s important about knowing them is that you need to convey your highly-valued abilities to your potential employer. You’re not likely to put “works well in teams” directly on your resume. However, if you were an assistant manager at the coffee shop, then instead of explaining that in your resume as “assisted the manager,” you want to convey “supported the team, managed employees, and trained new employees as assistant manager.” Play up the needed strengths based on what employers are looking for.
The same goes for interviews. If you are asked anything that leads to a storytelling opportunity, have a story prepared that shows you are a leader, work well in teams, and can make important decisions.
If you haven’t yet found your perfect internship or post-college job, never fear. You have plenty of time. And you also have plenty of help. Local staffing agencies, such as Innovative Career Resources, have large networks in a variety of industries, and can help you show off your much-needed skills.
Innovative (serving Orange County, Los Angeles County, Riverside and San Bernardino counties) has established relationships with companies in the finance, accounting, science, engineering, biotech, healthcare, and professional services sectors. The companies and organizations with whom they work have all levels of job openings and niche positions, and are always seeking bright, talented, and educated candidates. Check out Innovative’s open job postings here, or follow them on Twitter for tips to getting a dream post-graduation job! Are you an employer looking for college graduate candidates with these top ten skills? Contact Innovative today to see how they will find you your next best employee!