Landing a job fresh out of college is no easy feat. Although a vast majority of graduates feel they are ready to start their careers, the truth is that only 50 percent of managers agree, according to a PayScale report.
This disparity in confidence is caused by a skills gap that is making securing a desired job upon graduation more challenging than many graduates anticipate.
Luckily, LinkedIn took a look at what made the class of 2017 successful and published a guide to getting hired in 2018. These were the top 10 skills that helped new grads land their first job. I've added my personal observations on each.
1. Microsoft Office
Most business programs offer a Microsoft Office class as part of the curriculum. Regardless, everyone should take one as an elective. I spend 80 percent of my day in programs like Outlook, Word, and Excel.
Taking a class now to pick up the basics will shave weeks off the learning curve and allow a new graduate to focus on learning other aspects of the job.
2. Customer Service
Every job has a customer service component. Whether it's behind a customer service kiosk or managing internal employee issues, every role requires you to provide some sort of satisfactory service to internal or external customers.
Effective communication, problem-solving, and listening skills are vital to delivering excellent customer services and are transferable abilities regardless of what career path.
When I interview new graduates, this is one of those skills that most have a hard time conveying. I get it. You just graduated and haven't had many opportunities to "lead" yet. However, if you take the time to break down leadership, you'll notice that you've had plenty of opportunities to practice. Campus leadership experience counts -- consider where you took a leadership role in a student organization or a group project.
When I sit down with new graduates, I'm looking for glimpses of leadership abilities like initiative, an attitude of servitude, persistence, and reliability.
4. Public Speaking
It's hard to build a personal brand and succeed in the workplace if you can't convey your ideas to others. If you want to fast-track your career, then focus on developing presentation skills and get comfortable speaking in front of others.
In my experience, possessing this skill is one of the easiest ways to secure additional opportunities. Public speaking remains one of the biggest fears for most people. If you can overcome the anxiety in school, it will position you well for early career success.
5. Social Media
Social media proficiency is like knowing a second language. It doesn't matter which industry you work in (retail or health care), platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram have become some of the most effective ways to build a brand and interact with customers.
In addition to knowing how to operate multiple platforms, take a look at hard skills like social media listening, writing skills, and content creation to help boost your social media competency.
Working in a team combines many vital skills. To be successful in a group, you'll need to: communicate effectively, listen intently, pay attention to the details, hold up your end of the bargain and be reliable, and problem solve.
Most important, you'll have to learn that it's not all about you. Collaboration is key to being a supportive and successful team member.
7. Time Management
Unlike school, the work environment (depending upon the job) can be a little less structured than what most graduates are used to. Managers will assign work and trust that you'll get it done.
Time management skills that can set you apart include prioritization, planning, ability to focus, decision making, self-motivation, and organization skills.
While you're developing hard skills, many managers will rely on new graduates for research. Learning how to find useful information and presenting it succinctly is the first step to eventually managing a project.
Fundamental skills here are critical thinking and analysis, report writing, and presentation skills.
Although you may not be a manager for a few years, that doesn't mean you can start practicing now.
Early management skills include communication, execution, innovation, and motivating or galvanizing others. You can practice by assisting your supervisor with project management or coordinating work on a cross-functional initiative.
10. Event Planning
Planning a work event is one of the earliest opportunities new graduates have at showcasing abilities such as organization, multitasking, and problem-solving skills.
Whether it's team meetings, interviews, or internship initiatives, taking on event planning is a quick way to demonstrate your versatility and ability to take something through from concept to fruition.
Landing a great job directly after college is a formidable task. However, focusing on developing this list of 10 transferable skills will position you well for early success.