The ability to work as part of a team and having good interpersonal skills (a fancy way of saying that you know how to work and communicate with others) is invaluable to employers.
Students often spend hours and hours trying to figure out what exactly employers want to see on their resumes.
No matter what industry you want to go into, from journalism to law to medicine, there are “soft skills” that every employer wants their employees to have.
“Employers can more readily train someone on technical skills, such as learning a specific computer program, but it’s more challenging to train someone on polishing their soft skills,” says Vicki Salemi, author of Big Career in the Big City: Land a Job and Get a Life in New York and founder of the Job Search Boot Camp for College Grads.
College is the best time to make sure that your soft skills are as good as they can be because you have so many opportunities to develop them. With that in mind, here are the soft skills you need on your resume — and the extracurricular activities you should join to develop them.
1. Teamwork and interpersonal skills
No matter which industry you go into, you’re going to have to work with customers, clients or other employees. The ability to work as part of a team and having good interpersonal skills (a fancy way of saying that you know how to work and communicate with others) is invaluable to employers.
Lesley Mitler, the founder of Priority Candidates, a coaching firm that helps college seniors and recent graduates find their first jobs, says that this skill is “critical in helping your group or organization to achieve company goals.”
Sports teams are a great way to develop your teamwork skills, even if you aren’t particularly athletic. Even playing in a low-level college team or just a local team still allows you to develop teamwork skills and will be a real plus on your resume.
2. Problem-solving and analytical skills
“Everyone, no matter what level, is involved in making decisions,” Mitler says. “It is important to understand when there is a need for involving and incorporating other points of view in order to ensure the best outcome.”
Just about every post-graduate job requires employees to analyze complex situations and to work with a given problem, so you need to demonstrate to an employer that you know how to do this. The only thing that really changes is what the problem relates to, so be sure that you have some experience in analysis and problem solving.
Katherine Varga, a junior at the University of Rochester, says that being on the executive board for her student-run theater company strengthened her problem-solving skills as she worked with peers to manage situations and work towards the common goal of managing the group.
3. Written and verbal communication
Randall Hansen, founder of career advice site Quintessential Careers, says communication is the skill that is mentioned the most often by employers, because “successful communication is critical in business.”
This doesn’t just cover being able to speak to your peers or even your boss — you also have to have great written communication skills. For example, you might be asked to write a report and you will probably have to send many emails, so being able to write well is a key skill for any job.
Joining the school paper or the Her Campus chapter at your school will help you develop your written and verbal communication skills. If writing isn’t your strong suit, you can get involved in public relations for another club or organization, which will require you to talk to students and to work on flyers and poster campaigns.
Alex Horvitz, a junior at Tufts University, says that being the director of marketing for the Panhellenic Council has really helped to develop her communication skills because she has to communicate with her team and “find a way to communicate to Greek students all over campus.”
To read about more soft skills (and how to get them), be sure to check out the full article here.
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