5 Alternative Skills Every Graduate Needs for Today’s Job Market
While most college courses concentrate on theories, the so-called “real world” job market of today requires less theory and more “hands-on” skills. I never understood why professors asked students to write 10-20 page papers on the existence of the human person, or why “I” and “you” can be the same person. Even though these papers develop our deeper intellect, most jobs require a different type of knowledge.
Employers are not interested in how graduates understand the deeper meaning of life. They are interested in how graduates can improve their business and increase their profitability. Below you will find 5 alternative skills that every graduate needs for today’s job market.
- Microsoft Excel – Every college student should learn how to use Microsoft Excel. Nearly every profession uses Microsoft Excel. It is an invaluable resource in the office. If you already have a basic understanding of Microsoft Excel, you can always learn more by watching free tutorials online. Learning how to use Pivot Tables, Filtering, and Formulas has saved me hours of extra work.
- Social Media – If you are in college and do not know anything about Facebook or Twitter, it’s time to get on that bandwagon. Certain professions, such as Education, discourage employees from using Social Media. However, Social Media is currently one of the strongest, fastest, and most cost effective ways of attracting business. Knowledge of Facebook and Twitter can help recent graduates enter the world of online marketing and advertising. Social Media can also help recent graduates find jobs or even start their own business. It is an incredible resource and every graduate should take advantage of its benefits.
- Google Products – Graduates should have a basic understanding of Google Products. These products are widely used by businesses across many industries. Gmail, Google’s online email, is the largest email provider in the world. Gmail was launched in 2004, and in January 2012 was reported to have 425 million active users worldwide. Google Drive allows users to store, send, and share documents on a cloud server which can be accessed through gmail accounts. Google Analytics is another valuable Google resource. Google Analytics allows users to analyze a website’s popularity, measuring the amount of sales, website hits, how those hits occurred, and how to have visitors return to your site. Google products are incredibly useful in the business and online marketing world.
- Writing Skills – Many recent graduates have average to decent writing skills. Some were lucky enough to attend a Business Writing class. Colleges should teach more classes on “How to Write a Business Email,” “How to Cc Your Department to Save Your Reputation,” or “How to Write Proposals and Invoices.” While colleges ask students to research topics, students should learn how to write clear, succinct, inoffensive emails. Reading samples of business emails online can give you a good understanding of how business writing should look like. Learning how to use this dry yet direct language can save you from many misunderstandings and will make you appear more grown up and mature among your coworkers.
- Public Speaking – Even if you become a so-called “number cruncher,” it is important to learn some solid public speaking skills. During meetings, you will be asked to speak in front of a group. There will be times when you will address senior management with a new idea or maybe even a request for a raise. Developing public speaking skills will bring life-long benefits not only to your career, but to your personal life as well.
Lastly, there are many other skills recent graduates can develop before they enter the business world. One of the toughest skills for me personally was humility. After a few weeks of working my first job, I realized I still had much to learn from my senior colleagues. Taking their advice, I slowly learned how to use different software and how to respond to different personalities – not only through email but also face to face. College courses are geared to developing well-rounded graduates, but they lack the practical day-to-day skills that can greatly improve productivity. It is important to learn these skills as they can help you stand apart from your peers, land you a better job, and help you excel at the job you ultimately choose.
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