As a recent graduate, searching for your first job can be intimidating, to say the least. Obviously, you won’t be bringing years of relevant work experience to the table. You may have technical skills, but those may not have been applied to many real-world situations.
This doesn’t mean you are at a complete disadvantage. More and more often, employers aren’t just looking for hard skills and experience. They’ve realized that by focusing only on those elements, what they often get are employees as commodities rather than people who can grow with the organization. So, don’t fret about what you’re lacking. Instead, focus on honing the following seven essential job skills.
Emotional intelligence is an important skill in any workplace. It is the ability to recognize emotions in others and to show empathy. Those with emotional intelligence can respond intelligently and appropriately to customers and coworkers. They’re also able to recognize and control their own emotions as well.
If you work to develop your emotional intelligence, you will be a true asset to any employer. People with well-developed emotional intelligence are great teammates, leaders, and tend to have higher levels of performance and productivity.
Critical thinkers can look at a problem, analyze it objectively, and determine the best possible options for moving forward. For businesses, critical thinkers are valuable on so many different levels. In a crisis, critical thinkers can be relied on to remain calm, consider all of the relevant facts, and make measured decisions rather than using a reactionary response. In a project, they keep the team grounded by considering all possible outcomes, and suggesting solutions others may not have considered.
There are two things that you can do to develop critical thinking skills when faced with a problem. First, expand on any potential solution until you have identified all possible outcomes. Then, identify your own biases and assumptions. These might cause you to ignore certain, valid solutions. It might also make you unfairly biased towards other solutions.
If you have the true ability to work within a team, to deal with different personalities, and approach conflict constructively, you have a skill that future employers really value. It’s also a skill that more people are lacking than you realize. A good team player works hard to ensure that everyone feels as if their contributions are valued.
Further, teamwork isn’t displayed by doing the most work. Instead, effective team players can recognize when they need to pull extra weight, but also know how to communicate to others that they need to step up. Most importantly, they can put ego and conflict aside in order to ensure the team is successful.
Verbal And Written Communication
Having the ability to effectively express your thoughts verbally and in writing is very sought after skill. Workers with this ability can communicate well with their peers and with customers. They are also good listeners and thorough readers. They know the best method of communication to use in a given situation, the right tone to take, and the correct words to use.
If you’re the type of students that others frequently ask ‘write my essay?’ chances are you are well on your way to having great writing skills. If not, consider a business writing course. There are also ways to develop your verbal communication skills as well. Consider joining Toastmasters, a club that allows you to develop these skills in a supportive environment.
Creativity isn’t just suited for careers in art and design. Virtually every business that exists can benefit from creative staff members. Creative people can approach problems from a variety of angles. Then, they can come up with out of the box solutions that others may not have considered.
When projects are stalled and people are short on ideas, creative team members can almost always be counted on to get progress rolling again. Creative types are a great fit in areas such as web design, merchandising, marketing, and advertising. However, don’t count out the value of your creative skills in any business area.
Initiative is the ability to recognize that something needs to be done, and then taking action to get that thing done. All too often, employees don’t have this skill. This is especially true among entry-level employees. Instead, they simply wait to be told what to do next.
Hesitance to take initiative can be driven by two things. The first is lack of self-confidence. New employees often assumed that they must get permission before they take things on. However, this can be addressed by simply speaking up. For example, simply saying something like, ‘I noticed there is a backlog of customers waiting to be contacted about their billing statements. I have free time to cover that if you want me to’ shows both initiative as well as respect for any existing policies or procedures that could impact the situation.
The second is, of course, purely bad habit. People are often conditioned to see downtime as a reason to take it easy. This is okay sometimes, but it’s not necessarily an approach that will win over a potential new boss.
It doesn’t matter if the job you are seeking involves no customer contact. It doesn’t even matter if the job you are seeking involves very little human contact whatsoever. Your customer service skills are still imperative. This is because well-developed customer service skills mean that you:
● Understand That The Quality of Your Work Will Impact Customers Down The Line
● Realize That Other Employees Who Rely on You to do Good Work Are Essentially Your Customers
● Get The Company’s Brand And do Your Part to Support It
● Are Willing to Take Extra Steps to Improve Customer Experience
● Will Communicate Issues That You See And Make Suggestions to Support The Overall Goal of Customer Service
● Act With a Sense of Urgency in a Crisis
● Seek to Find Solutions Rather Than Assign Blame
Having customer service skills goes beyond being able to use some kind of help desk software, or how to answer phones in a call center. It’s having the ability to recognize your role in either providing great customer support directly or ensuring that your actions help empower others to do so.
Stop worrying about what you don’t have to offer to potential employers after college. Instead, focus on developing these skills and highlighting them on resumes and in interviews. This will put you in the best position to land a great first job.