Going to college is not just about getting a degree; it is also about finding a career. Employers will of course want to ensure you are qualified for the job by having the appropriate degree, but they will also want to confirm whether you possess the necessary skills.
The top 5 skills employers look for include:
- Critical thinking and problem solving
- Teamwork and collaboration
- Professionalism and strong work ethic
- Oral and written communications skills
Why is Critical Thinking Important?
Critical thinking is an essential skill for almost every occupation. An employee must be able to analyze evidence, question assumptions, test hypotheses, observe and draw conclusions from any type of data. The art of critical thinking goes beyond just learning skills. It is a habit that helps to solve problems.
Although critical thinking can be taught in the classroom, you need to apply it during studies and real-world experiences in order to make a habit of using it every day. Critical thinking skills are the top priority for employers when hiring people, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. Even though critical thinking skills are what employers strive for and find most important, the average employer believes that recent graduates only possess "somewhat proficient" critical thinking skills. Despite employers' need for critical thinking skills being 99.2%, only 55.8% of graduates possess them.
How to Develop Critical Thinking Skills
Students will begin to apply critical thinking skills to their work by engaging in active learning. Various opportunities exist for students to be active learners. Active learning puts students directly in situations they would encounter in their career, whether it is through cooperative educational experiences, internships, practicums, labs, or field experiences. By doing so, students not only gain valuable real-world experience, but they are also able to practice their problem-solving skills and improve them even further.
In addition, critical thinking skills can be developed by interacting with students during class time. You will develop your problem-solving skills through collaboration as well as improve your teamwork skills as you participate in class discussions, activities, and engage with other students and the professor.
The Importance of Teamwork & Collaboration in the Workplace
Although some college group projects can feel burdensome, these team assignments will prepare you for your future workplace. Teams are essential for all facets of the workforce. Working as a team and collaborating with others is crucial to keeping the organization or company running smoothly, whether it's marketing, nursing, or acting.
The company or organization will succeed and grow if you interact and collaborate with your colleagues. Every individual brings their own set of skills to the table. You may come up with a better idea or conclusion after interacting with your colleagues than on your own. When you arrive at your new career with quality teamwork skills in your pocket, you can be a step ahead of the competition. Many employers felt graduates needed to improve their critical thinking skills but were impressed by their teamwork and collaboration skills. About 97.5% of employers said they were impressed by teamwork and communication improvement skills. The workplace requires collaboration and teamwork. Graduates can demonstrate these skills in the workplace, according to 77% of respondents.
Employers seek graduates with teamwork skills because teamwork promotes unity, it improves productivity, it promotes synergy, and it provides new learning opportunities.
Professionalism & Strong Work Ethic
All employers want their employees to have a strong work ethic and be professional. Whatever career you pursue after graduation, your employer will expect you to be professional and hardworking.
A strong work ethic and professionalism are two characteristics every employer looks for in their employees. You will be expected to have strong, professional social skills and a great work ethic no matter what job you end up in after graduation. According to the Employer Career Competencies survey, all employers rate "Professionalism/Work Ethic" as 100% essential, but only 42.5% of employees exhibit these behaviors.
Developing Professional & Work Ethical Skills
Throughout your daily classes, activities, and work schedule, you can continue developing your professional skills. Simple tasks like being punctual and having a professional attitude can develop communication skills in work place. However, you may also develop them through more time-consuming tasks.
A few of these tasks may include completing your work in a timely and efficient manner. People with strong work ethics are less likely to procrastinate and are first to put themselves forward for new tasks. Your professional attitude and strong work ethic will make employers more interested in considering you for promotions, new jobs, or other positive outcomes.
Oral & Written Communication Skills
Today's technological age makes it easier to send a text message without thinking about grammar. This can lead to a decrease in your written or oral communication abilities. Your communication skills can also deteriorate if you don't engage in face-to-face conversations. Even though being proficient in digital technology is essential for many careers, technology should not serve as the sole means of communication. It adversely affects the quality of face-to-face conversations in the workplace. These are also skills that many recent graduates could improve. Only 41.6% of employers are confident they demonstrate efficiency in communications and writing skills, even though 95.9% of employers believe that those skills are essential.
Improving Oral Communication Skills
The over-communication problem is one that can be solved rather easily. It is more likely that a message will be received accurately when it is simpler. Make sure your message is simple, clear, and concise.
Engaging your audience is another method of improving oral communication. In addition to talking, you can also make a conversation to better communicate your ideas and concepts as well as to hear new ideas, questions or input from others.
Listen to what others have to say. First and foremost, you must be a good listener if you wish to improve your communication skills. You are more likely to provide thoughtful responses and comments if you listen carefully to what others are saying.
Improve your written communication skills
In many professions, written communication skills are just as important as oral communication skills. Organizing your thoughts can help you improve your written communication skills. When you write, proofread to check if your work sounds jumbled, like you're rambling or if the ideas don't flow. If this applies to you, begin by creating an outline for your work, so that your thoughts are arranged in a logical fashion. Your work will be more professional when this is done. One simple thing again. It could just be your own lack of confidence in your writing. If you feel stressed that what you are writing does not sound good, use a program like be a listener or Microsoft's "readability tool" to see how it sounds, whether it has structural errors, etc.
You can improve your communication skills not only to become a better associate, but also to become a better leader.
Most employers believe that only 33% of employees demonstrate leadership qualities, even though 68.6% of employers are looking for graduates with quality leadership skills. You can become a great leader at your workplace by using critical thinking, teamwork, professionalism and work ethic, as well as communication skills.
You need to discover your leadership style first. When you identify your strengths and your standards of excellence, you can begin to develop your leadership style around them. The next step is to create a culture of self-reinforcing behavior and practices as soon as you have defined your personal leadership style. When people see you are genuinely passionate and enthusiastic about the work you are doing, it makes them more enthusiastic about their own work. This kind of upbeat environment will increase productivity and workflow. On the other hand, lacking enthusiasm and passion will negatively affect the workplace culture.
Developing Leadership Skills
Finding out what your strengths and weaknesses are and how you can improve on them is the first step toward landing the ideal job. You will become more desirable to employers by practicing and applying critical thinking, teamwork, professionalism, work ethic, written and oral communication, and leadership skills.