Everything you need to know to be successful at a post-graduate job can be learned in a college classroom, right?
It’s no secret that college prepares us for the real world of employment. (That’s why we pay big bucks to attend classes for four years, isn’t it?) Unfortunately, some skills learned in the classroom aren’t always the most applicable in the workplace, especially when it comes to the technology-driven online jobs that have become so popular in recent years. Whether you’re a current college student, a recent graduate or a seasoned professional, there are skills you can learn and perfect — in your studies, an internship, a job or even on your own — to improve your aptitude and ability to land a killer job in the future.
Whether you strive to be a cutting-edge journalist, a teacher or a CEO, you have to be an effective communicator. In today’s age of email, this means being an effective writer. Your writing skills don’t have to rival those of a Pulitzer Prize winner, but you should be able to use proper grammar and form cohesive sentences that get your points across clearly. Luckily, most college educations improve students’ writing skills. When reviewing resumes, potential employers notice your ability to communicate effectively. Whether you’re applying for your first internship or building on years of career experience, make sure your resume and cover letter highlight your writing skills.
As with writing skills, almost every job requires you to conduct research at some point, whether it be surfing the Web to learn about government policies or developing a business plan for an entire company. Those late-night college papers probably also helped you develop research skills. Practice exploring all facets of research — Internet, literary, surveys — so you have well-rounded research methods.
Social media skills
Social media is quickly becoming its own industry, so modern-day professionals need a strong online presence. Generally, college students and recent graduates are well-versed when it comes to social media. Although it’s impossible to have an account on every social media platform available, knowing your way around the major players — Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube — and having a working knowledge of how the Internet and social media work together (SEO, etc.) will impress potential employers.
Depending on your field, you might not need any knowledge of HTML to land a job. If any facet of your industry relates to the Internet, however, basic HTML skills can get you far. For example, I’m an online copywriter, and although I don’t do heavy coding for my company’s website, I do know how to compose a blog post using basic HTML, a skill I use on a daily basis when I submit guest articles to site owners. I’m no computer whiz, so I refer to a copy of HTML for Dummies from time to time. This rudimentary understanding of HTML has definitely made my job easier.
Just like HTML skills, design skills aren’t applicable to every industry. That being said, you never know when the opportunity will arise to design a flier, a webpage or an online ad that requires an understanding of basic design principals. These tasks give you the opportunity to show off additional skills at work, especially if they’re not in your job description. Thanks to programs such as Photoshop and Dreamweaver, even the most basic design skill set can produce some impressive results.
If you took your college education seriously, you probably walked across the stage to receive your diploma with a few good time-management techniques under your belt. By now, you should know how to focus on the task at hand and allocate an appropriate amount of time to complete it. These skills directly translate to the workplace. In some offices, managers track how long it takes employees to complete assignments. Others expect employees to work on a long-term project or set of assignments and report back when finished. Either way, you don’t want to use your time ineffectively and risk disappointing your superiors or losing your job.
Of course, your strengths will determine what industry you work in and what career path you choose, but there’s nothing wrong with expanding your skill set to get ahead. By honing these skills, you’ll grow both as an individual and as an employee, impress your boss and possibly take on a new role you never expected.
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