6 Ways to Gain Effective Job Skills Before You Graduate

By Marie Mills

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You attend a respectable school. You get decent grades. You've participated in activities that your adviser has told you will help you in your future career endeavors. The question is. Is that enough? The truth is, in a competitive field, it may not be enough. You need something that makes you stand out from other job applicants. You need job skills that will make you useful to your boss as an entry-level employee. You need to be able to present yourself as having both soft and hard skills that can be put to use the moment you walk through the door and begin working.

1. Take an Internship

If there is any possible to make it happen before you graduate, seek out and complete an internship. You will be given the opportunity to take the skills and knowledge that you have gained in an academic setting and use them in real world situations. By gaining this position, you will put yourself in a much better position when you are ready to interview for jobs in your field.

2. Work in a Job that Involves Direct Customer Contact

There is not a job in the world in which you will not benefit from the skills you will gain by working in a job with direct customer contact. You will learn to problem solve on your feet, you will learn how to negotiate with others, and you will learn how to pick your battles. These skills will help you as you deal with difficult co-workers, customers, or vendors. They will also provide you with a sense of empathy that you can use to your benefit in the workplace.

3. Play a Sport

This is actually a big turn on for hiring managers. People who play sports in college develop decision  making and problem solving skills. They also have a willingness to make difficult decisions in demanding moments, and then take responsibility for executing those decisions and dealing with the results.

4. Become a Super User

Take a moment to consider the software that you will be likely to use in your career. Microsoft Office, Adobe, Google Docs, and EverNote are just a few that come to mind. Your answers will vary according to your field of choice. Whatever you choose, take the time to become a super user. What does this mean? It means that you should find a way to take your skills to the next level. Don't settle for being somebody who can open up a spreadsheet and edit it, take the time to learn to create macros and to use the advanced features of the tool.

5. Be an Entrepreneur

Even if it doesn't grow into a rousing success, the simple act of launching a startup as a college student can give you the skills that many hiring managers want to see. Students who launch businesses understand marketing, time scheduling, financial management, and sometimes even human resource issues.

6. Learn How to Write

Of course you know how to write, but do you know how to effectively use writing to communicate in a business setting. Many college students believe that if they have successfully passed their English course requirements, and a few business courses that their skills are where they need to be. This is rarely true. If you are able, take a course specifically focused on business writing, or access a guide to writing for business on the Internet.

There are many excellent job search resources that you can use to get career advice or to seek the job you are most interested in. Just be certain that before you make use of these services that you have developed the skills potential employers in your field want to see.

Photo from Biznewsmag

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