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Skills Employers Seek
As you take your undergraduate courses, you may wonder how they are going
to help you eventually "on the job." A good approach is to take a skills
orientation. Think of your courses not only as ways of learning about
particular subjects but also as learning experiences which refine a variety
of specific skills.
A bit of reflection will show that your courses, earlier
work experiences, and hobbies are providing you with skills that later
employers may value. If asked in a job interview how your education has
prepared you for a specific job, you can be ready with some good answers,
if you think about it beforehand.
This handout gives you some ideas about skills which are useful to employers
and which might be part of what you can offer an employer. A companion
page, "Suggested Courses to Develop Skills that Prospective
Employers Want," lists courses that can help you develop occupationally-relevant
- Develop a habit of curiosity.
- Think creatively.
- Solve problems effectively and quickly.
- Work well with those who are different from you.
- Be able to extract the important ideas from written words as well as
graphs and tables.
- Be able to apply information to solve problems and answer questions.
- Be able to communicate (orally) ideas clearly, concisely, accurately,
- Be able to write introductory summaries and wrap-up statements.
- Be able to document and illustrate ideas, including creating tables
- Be able to identify problems in data.
- Be able to reason numerically.
- Be able to apply/use data to solve problems (knowledge of statistics very useful here).
- Be able to communicate, orally, ideas clearly, concisely, and persuasively.
- Use "active" listening skills to improve mutual understanding
- Be curious enough to probe for critical information
- Be sensitive enough to hear and relate to the emotions behind another's words.
- Be able to use standard word processors and spreadsheets
- Become competent with social media, email, messaging, and Skype
- Learn how to solve problems by using search engines to find and evaluate solutions
Group Interactional Skills
- Be able to solve problems in a group.
- Be able to think creatively in a group.
- Be able to judge and engage in appropriate behavior.
- Be able to cope with undesirable behavior in others.
- Be able to absorb/deal with stress.
- Be able to deal with ambiguity.
- Be able to inspire confidence in others.
- Be able to share responsibility with others.
- Be able to interact effectively with others.
- Be able to negotiate from a "win-win" perspective.
Interpersonal Influence skills
- Be able to achieve personal goals, as well as influence others and the larger organization.
- Know how organization is structured, how it works, and why it works the way it does.
- Know how, why, when, and by whom decisions are really made.
Knowing how to learn
- Understand how you absorb and retain information.
- Learn when you are most alert and use this time to learn.
- Keep aware of external events and reflect on how those events affect you.
Adapted from: Hall, V. and Wessel, J. (1989, December 3). As today's
work world changes, so do the skills employers seek. The Atlanta Journal/The
Atlanta Constitution, p. 53S. (Part I)
Hall, V. and Wessel, J. (1989, December 10). Today's employees need
skills once reserved only for "top brass." The Atlanta Journal/The Atlanta
Constitution, p. 39R. (Part II)
APA-style reference for this page:
Lloyd, M. A., & Kennedy, J. H. (2008, August 28). Skills employers
seek. Retrieved from: http://www.psywww.com/careers/skills.html.
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