Hey, looking good! That new designer suit makes you look like a runway model on the way to a Fortune 500 job. Once you've graduated, you'll take on the working world in style. But will you be able to prove that you're not just another pretty face? Here are a few skills you'll want to develop before you get out into the competitive reality of today's job market.
*Put Forth the Effort*
The difference between an average job candidate and one employers want to hire is the ability to go above and beyond. As you pursue your class work and extracurricular activities, don't simply follow directions. Train yourself to see what extra things you can do to take your work a step beyond.
It might be something like doing extra research for a seminar paper. Or creating a better filing system in a part-time job. Or finding ways to improve participation in your favorite club. Don't settle for merely doing the work. Take ownership of your projects and take your efforts beyond the average.
*Specialize and Generalize*
To do well in a career, it's important that you learn everything about it. Read journals and subscribe to news groups that are specific to your field.
But don't stop there. Take classes outside of your area and read general interest newspapers and magazines. Your outside interests and well-rounded understanding of world events will impress in interview and bring a new perspective to your field.
*Know a Second Language*
We live in a global economy. If you can communicate in another language, you'll be respected by international clients and have an advantage over your monolingual co-workers.
*Master Your Native Language*
Knowing another language won't impress if you can't communicate in your own. Spell-check everything you write and buy a language style book to check punctuation and grammar. Also, read challenging material and look up words you don't know to improve your vocabulary.
*Keep Up Your Math Skills*
It's obvious that bankers, accountants and engineers need math to do their jobs. But math skills are important in other jobs as well. Brush up your skills so you can calculate budgets, percentages, interest rates or net profits.
*Learn How to Use Computers*
Computers are more important every day. If you want to keep up, you'd better get to know them. This means getting some training in word-processing, spreadsheet and database software. It also helps to learn some basic programming. Familiarize yourself with hardware like computers, printers and scanners, and learn how to use Internet for research and information. Even improving your typing speed can make you a better job candidate.
*Be Part of a Club or Sport*
Participation in clubs and sports demonstrates that you work well on a team and have good communication and interpersonal skills. The modern-day workplace emphasizes collaboration, so get some experience under your belt that proves you're able to work with others.
*Show That You're a Born Leader*
Employers like to see people with initiative and motivation. Take leading roles in a club or on the job. If you don't like any of the clubs or jobs on your campus, start your own!
Not only do volunteer opportunities make you feel good about yourself, they give you marketable skills and demonstrate your initiative.
You can't "cram" for your first job. But if you prepare yourself by developing skills that are in demand, you'll be able to compete for the best jobs in today's market.