Colleges aren’t preparing students for the main skill they need to succeed
You can take all the advanced classes and do all the internships you want, but if you don’t have certain “soft” skills, you likely won’t get hired, experts say. The No. 1 soft skill you need? Good oral and written communication, according to 2017 findings from career site Monster.com (pulled using CEB TalentNeuron), which looked at more than 943,000 market-wide entry-level job listings requiring at least a bachelor’s degree.
“Oral and written skills are the be all and end all,” says Vicki Salemi, a former corporate recruiter and Monster career expert. “Even if you work with numbers, at computers all day, you are still going to have to explain things to clients, manage people.”
But colleges aren’t doing a good job of teaching students these skills. Only about one in four employers say that college students come to them with solid oral and written communication skills, according to data from the Association of American Colleges and Universities. (Though more than six in 10 grads think they’re good at these things.)
Top 5 soft skills employers want
Oral and written communication
Other soft skills that employers request frequently: marketing, Microsoft Office proficiency, being detail-oriented and problem-solving abilities. Marketing skills are a lot about how you brand yourself, says Salemi — showing that you are the best person to help this company succeed. This starts with a resume and interview where you offer proof of your abilities, like specific goals that you achieved at a previous internship or job.
Showing that you can problem-solve is often achieved during the interview process, as many employers ask you a question related to this. Salemi says that you will want to detail a specific situation in which you fixed the problem and show how you did it. Revealing that you’re detail-oriented — something employers care about even more now that jobs require us to work on so many tasks at once now — starts with a typo-free resume and cover letter, she adds.
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