Get the Job Skills You Need (That You Didn't Get From Your Degree)

Posted by The Editors on April 13, 2012
Get the Job Skills You Need (That You Didn't Get From Your Degree)

It’s a story you hear from many college graduates these days: they got a great degree while they were in school, but it didn’t necessarily prepare them for the working world. Or they got a degree in their exact field, but are having trouble finding work because they “don’t have enough experience.”

So if you’re a college grad who has plenty of academic skills but not a whole lot of job skills, what are your options? Here are a few things you can do while you’re in college or after you graduate to ensure you have every skill you need to succeed in your career.

Make a Job Skills Checklist
The first thing you need to do is to make a check list of the skills that are required for your career. While most careers will require some basic skills – like the ability to use Outlook and Microsoft Word – there will be additional skills that vary greatly by the field you’re planning to enter, and these may not always be obvious. Your marketing degree may have prepared you to analyze survey statistics and market research, for example, but might not have prepared you to pitch to clients or present at corporate events.

The best way to get an idea of all the job skills you’ll need is to browse the job listings in your field. They should give you a listing of the different software programs you’ll need to be familiar with, as well as other skills, such as presentation and public speaking experience. Another great way to do a skills inventory is to speak to a professional currently working in your field to see what programs and tools they use the most. Contact someone you know to see if they can lend their insight, or find professionals in your field on social media platforms like Twitter and Brazen Careerist.

Get an Internship or Volunteer
Now that you’ve got a list of job skills and you know what you do and don’t have, it’s time to start working on the ones you don’t. One great way to gain additional abilities is to intern or volunteer in your field. Seek out firms or organizations in your area and see if they’re willing to take on an intern or volunteer. Explain that you’re looking to break into the field, and are willing to work hard in exchange for the skills you’ll gain. At the end of your stint, you may have more than just some new software knowledge:  you may have started to build a network that can help you find a full-time job later on.

Take a Class
If you’ve gone through the list of required skills and you’re missing some that can’t be picked up on the job or through an internship, you may need to take a class or two. (While the boss at your internship might be willing to teach you how to concantenate cells in Microsoft Excel, it’s unlikely he or she has time to teach you the entire Microsoft Office Suite.) The good news is that this can be far less expensive than it was to earn your bachelor’s degree. Check out the resources at your local library and community college, and see if there are classes offered in the programs you need. Best of all, these classes might be offered online, so you can take them while you work.

About the Author: Noël Rozny is Web Editor & Content Manager at myFootpath, a career and education resource for students of all ages.

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