If you will be graduating soon or are just beginning to look for jobs and internships during school breaks, you’re busy fixing up your resume and CV. Sure, you want to show off your relevant courses and work experience, but there are some skills employees look for that you can’t quite put on a resume. Employers are noticing more and more gaps between what young employees bring to the table, and what they’re looking for as a company. These are the top four skills employers are looking for – do you feel like you’re prepared?
In the digital age, many interpersonal skills have unfortunately fallen by the wayside. Fifty-two percent of companies that responded to the Career Builder survey said recent grads lacked interpersonal skills. Employers need employees to be able to appropriate communicate and interact with other people, both colleagues and customers.
These skills include looking someone in the eye, giving a firm handshake, having appropriate dress and behavior, and properly introducing yourself. Having strong interpersonal skills can make a candidate with a less-marketable degree a more appealing hire.
If you don’t feel your people skills are ready for the work place, attend some networking events to practice. Organize informational interviews to practice your skills at introducing yourself and being in a professional setting. If you have a mentor who will let you visit their office for a day, immerse yourself in the business setting to see how people behave.
Forty-six percent of employers said that recent college graduates have poor problem-solving skills. Today’s college graduates are seen as not being able to self-direct their learning and decision making. These could be simple problems, like addressing how to use the copy maker, or larger decisions that impact the business. While problems with higher stakes are more stressful, you should feel confident in your ability to solve all types problems.
There are a few ways to work on your problem-solving skills before the big interview. Puzzle games like Suduko and a Rubik’s Cube exercise your brain in this way. Next time you’re faced with a problem, look at your process. If you get angry or frustrated easily, take a breath. View problems neutrally and simplify them as much as problem. To think outside the box, use language that creates opportunity, and focus on what you can do to solve the problem, not what you’re stuck on.
In addition to interpersonal skills, employers are also looking for employees with strong oral communication. This includes public speaking and presentations, as well as simple things like answering the phone. A new employee might not understand how to adjust their speaking style to different situations and be perceived as too casual or laidback.
If speaking for a group makes you nervous, practice makes perfect. Use presentations in class as an opportunity to polish your technique. Make speeches in front of the mirror. If you don’t talk on the phone very often, practice calling friends or relatives. To really give yourself a challenge, volunteer at a phone bank or nonprofit to practice having professional phone calls.
Employers today often find that their new employees lack leadership skills. While this may be because younger generations have a different idea of leadership, and are less interested in traditional, hierarchical leadership structures. Whatever the case may be, college is the perfect time to hone those skills. If you’re part of a student organization, see how you can help and take on more of a leadership role. Serve as a role model and motivate others to greatness. Maintaining a positive attitude and a clear vision as you pursue your passion is great for your resume, and your skills.