Top 5 Desired Skills According To NACE

Ever wonder what skills employers seek in their new hires? NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers) released the results of a recent employer survey which asked what skills and attributes they seek in recent graduate new hires. The article can be read here, but here is a quick rundown of the top 5 skills:

1) Verbal Communication Skills: “Good communication skills” is almost always written on job description postings. While this has always been an important skillset, I believe there are more hiring managers and HR people who are placing more emphasis on this now. The ability to interface well with others is obviously important. This bodes well to all those communications majors out there. It might not hurt to take a communications class or two, as it might help you practice your public speaking skills (think presentations). A heavy dose of English or classes that require substantial written assignments will always help prepare you as well.

2) Strong Work Ethic: While this may seem like a given, this is a skillset or trait that is usually not teachable by hiring managers. This may be developed by years of practice in a disciplined environment, such as school, on-the-job experience, or organized team sports. Who says that afterschool job flipping burgers was worthless experience? (see my post on first jobs)

3) Teamwork Skills: The ability to get along with coworkers is a big deal. While a lot of people lose their jobs due to performance issues, more people lose their jobs (or quit) because they do not get along well with others. The ability to help others, improve morale, leadership, and take instruction well, are many skills that are encompassed by teamwork. While being a “team player” is a cliché term that you will find on a lot of resumes and cover letters, it is clear employers value this skill.

4) Analytical Skills: I surveyed employers years ago, and this was the number one skill on the list. As one manager put it, “I can teach employees the latest skills, but I can’t teach them how to think.” Analytical ability refers to your ability to intake information, process it, and output a conclusion or decision in a meaningful and accessible manner for others. This is another biggie. This is why you are in college: to hone your critical thinking skills.

5) Initiative: The cliché phrase may be “self-starter.” In other words, do you have to be told what to do? Or do you see things that need attention and get to work on it? If you come up with an idea to improve something, or create something new, what would you do? There are a lot of people with ideas, but not everyone acts on it. No one likes to be micro managed. But not everyone is self-sufficient. Put yourself in your manager’s shoes–would you want to be telling you what to do all the time? Or would you rather you work without always having to be told what to do? How do you address this? Understand what your employers/bosses need, and understand your role clearly. The more you can understand the agenda of those supervisors above you, the more likely you will understand what needs to be done. A good manager should make time maybe once a week or once every two weeks to check in with your progress (or your team), see how things are going, review your direction, and check to see if you need assistance with something, or have questions. If this doesn’t happen, start a dialog with him/her about this. This might be the first step in taking initiative. Your supervisor may be busy, but he/she will be impressed with your desire to do your job better (and ultimately make him or her look better!)

If you are an employer, or in a position to hire people, what do you look for in new hires?

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Tips Your Human Resources Department Won’t Tell You

I saved this article that popped up on my Yahoo page a few weeks ago, entitled “10 Things The HR Department Won’t Tell You.” Now, Yahoo is not always where I find my news, but the title caught my eye. I skimmed through the article, and some of the tips have been mentioned on this blog. You can find the original article here, but here are a few tips that I feel are worth reposting:

1. Background checks go beyond Google searches. This has been a banner I have carried on this blog. Especially here in the Bay Area, companies and their employees are very technology savvy. Especially when competition is fierce for open positions, employers look to find as much information as possible before hiring. The internet is ripe with information. Make sure you know what your digital footprint looks like.

2. Do not arrive super-early for an interview. This can be seen by the employer as disregarding the fact that they have other matters to attend to, besides you. Some employers will schedule multiple interviews on the same day. It can be awkward if you run into the interviewee scheduled before you.

3. Your appearance matters. As much as people will deny this, we are all human. Pay attention to the details when interviewing and while staying on the job.

4. If you are dating a co-worker, the relationship is being monitored. This can be a potential headache and team-splitter, human resources folks do not take this lightly. Know the potential for hazards, and their implications.

5. Your internet usage at work is being monitored. Assume that your internet browsing history is being monitored and stored. IT staff does not have the time to scour 100% of the traffic at the office, but guaranteed they have the capability to monitor yours. Don’t give the employer any reason to view you as unproductive or unprofessional.

6. Good and bad behavior is noted, but bad behavior counts more. HR professionals will document both good and bad behavior. But bad behavior usually warrants immediate attention, the kind of attention you want to avoid.

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Facebook NewsFeed: Is This Google PageRank??

Log in to your Facebook account. What is the first thing that you look at? I’m betting that you look at your News Feed first. Facebook has penetrated several markets and been adopted by over 500 million people for many reasons–News Feed is one of those reasons. News Feed offers a voyeuristic look into your friends’ interesting (or not so interesting) lives.

Look over to the right of the News Feed and you will find the buttons to change the News Feed from “Top News” to “Most Recent” posts from your friends. Changing these settings will obviously change the order, and possibly the content that you see. The question is: “How do they determine what posts/content goes in your feed, and in what order?” Continue reading

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Interesting Video of Sean Parker Talking About the Future of the Internet

This is an interesting video of Sean Parker (of Napster and Facebook fame) talking about the future of the internet. He talks about how the power of connecting people will be more important than gathering information (read: Google).

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Job Search Tips In A Tough Economy

I just read an article on the Silicon Alley Insider website entitled, How To Get A Great Job Right Now In Today’s Awful Economy. Okay, “Awful Economy” may not inspire people to go out and look for jobs right now. But I think it is also a good tactic to employ any strategies that may give you an advantage, regardless of how the economy is doing.

Please read the entire post, but here are a few standout tips that I found:

1. Be highly visible in your industry: This is true for entry-level to C suite careers. If you are a student looking for work, one of the best things you can do is to establish your reputation in your field while you are still a student. You can do this by doing an internship, publishing, networking, setting up a website and/or blog with your research/work, setting up an online profile(s) and doing research with professors. Companies are more likely to hire you if they know who you are!

2. Post your resume somewhere online, get interviews, and follow-up! The advantage of posting your information online is that you give access to anyone that might be looking for someone with your skill set. If you have your polished resume sitting on your desktop, no one else has access to it! Polish your resume and get it out there!

3. Do an internship to get your foot in the door. According to the latest 2010 NACE poll, 85% of employers polled have intentions of converting their interns into fulltime positions after graduation. 53% convert to fulltime jobs! So get out there and find an internship!

4. Find companies that you want to work for, then network to find someone who can make an introduction to that company for you. If you have an idea what industry you want to work in, do some research and find some desirable companies that you would like to work for. This targeted approach can work very well, given the right circumstances. Then find someone who can get your foot in the door. Again, if someone can recommend you, then you are much more likely to be successful in getting a job at that company!

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First Jobs

Are you a student that has just finished a forgettable summer job? Are you currently in a job that…well…you would rather not spend the rest of your life doing?

First jobs teach us valuable work ethics and skills, how to work well with others, and give us that first satisfactory taste of earning a paycheck. Often times those first jobs are not ones that we would want to do long-term. That is fine too, as it can serve as motivation to prepare ourselves for better and more satisfying employment. We all start out somewhere, even today’s successful business executives. An article I was reading this morning on Silicon Alley Insider chronicles how a few CEO’s earned their first paycheck. (Including Wal-Mart CEO, Deloitte CEO, and Goldman Sachs CEO)

Despite the simple and sometimes downright banal nature of the first job (or early in your working career), they usually teach us something valuable that we take with us to future jobs. Career counselors often talk about transferable skills: work skills that are portable from one job to another.

First jobs can often motivate us. The manager at my first job was so oppressive, that I vowed never to manage or treat coworkers like he did. I look back and wonder if some of the work I did was legal for a 13-year-old to do. But boy, did it give me motivation to go out and find another better summer job. And it also taught me the value of money. I knew what I had to do to earn that meager paycheck, so I was a little more careful how I spent it.

If you feel like you are in a dead-end job right now, perhaps looking at some of the early jobs of these CEO’s will provide comfort and motivation. Then make an appointment to see a career counselor to see how you can define and plan out your next steps to your career of choice!

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6 Performance Tips

I (along with a lot of other people) am curious why some people are perceived as more successful than others in their pursuits. Does the person with the most talent always excel more than others? Is it desire that propels that person to success? Or maybe a mixture of both of these factors? What other factors are involved?

This can certainly be an interesting discussion. In an article Six Keys to Being Excellent at Anything posted on The Harvard Business Review, Tony Schwartz reveals his ideas on how to approach any pursuit. Based upon his own experience and research, he writes about six tips that may help all of us be more successful in our pursuits. The entire article can be read here, but I will outline his performance tips.

1. Pursue What You Love: As a career counselor, this is a message I am repeatedly passing to clients and students. It sounds simple, but you might be surprised by the outside influences and pressures we all feel when making important career decisions. Friends, family, the job market, and even society in general, can often influence decisions we make. Obviously, no decision can be made in a vacuum, and nor would you want to make a decision without taking several factors into consideration. But often times I tell students that if YOU are going to be working 40+ hours a week, shouldn’t YOU be doing something that YOU enjoy and feel a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment? This is a very simple concept, but a very important one to pay attention to. I also suspect that most people will perform at a higher level when they enjoy that task. The rate of burnout is much lower as well.

2. Do The Hardest Work First: This tip is related to a post I wrote for Career Action Now, Are You A Morning Or An Evening Person regarding your circadian clock. A lot of people have more energy in the morning. If that is the case, it might be a good strategy to do the hardest work first. Personally, I rather finish the hard work first, as I can get it “off my plate” and not worry about it anymore. Especially if the hard work takes time, it might be advantageous to leave yourself a full day rather than a short day. But, as I mention in the Career Action Now article, everyone does their work differently. Do what feels best to you.

Continue reading

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Facebook Places: Here We Go Again!

Facebook recently unveiled its newest innovation: Facebook Places. Much like Foursquare, this feature allows you to announce your location. Facebook was recently rumored to have been in talks to purchase Foursquare outright. With the release of Places, I think we can put that rumor to rest. Many industry insiders speculated that buying Foursquare or one of its competitors would be a strategic move on Facebook’s part to garner more advertising dollars. Apparently Facebook developed its own application.

This is a great move for Facebook, and can be an exciting new feature for its users. But please beware of the privacy concerns around using this feature. While I think Facebook can be a very useful and entertaining website to use, I also advocate each user examine the privacy tools that are integrated into the site. Unfortunately, the default settings for most features are “open”, meaning that anyone may access your information. Places is no different. Changing your privacy settings can limit who can see the information you post. Again, I strongly urge users to review their privacy settings. Changing the privacy settings may take a bit of time and can be chunky at times, but may be well worth your effort.

Business Insider has written an article on some of the dangers of using Places, how to navigate the new feature, and how to change the privacy settings. I am posting it here.

James

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7 LinkedIn Tips That Will Help You Maximize Your Results

The power of networking and its benefits are well documented. But the advent of the internet has helped evolve how we network with others. We have a variety of tools and websites (read: meeting places) at our disposal that will help us meet and interact with other professionals, potential employers, mentors, mentees, and customers.

As stated in a previous post, LinkedIn is by far the most popular meeting place for working professionals. Traditional networking is an art form: success requires finesse and excellent people skills. While online networking increases your potential audience, many of the same rules apply. Continue reading

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Video Interview of Garth Saloner, Dean of Stanford’s Graduate School of Business

In a series of posts that include interviews of prominent figures in business, this post includes the video interview of Garth Saloner, the Dean of Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. Given recent economic crises, businesses are evolving to adapt to an ever-changing environment. This interview, originally posted on the McKinsey Quarterly’s website, asks questions about whether these changes affect how Fortune 500 companies hire their employees–does the economic climate change the qualities companies search for in recent MBA graduates? Do these changes affect selection criteria during the admissions process? Does the economic climate affect curriculum in prominent MBA programs? This interview might share insight into the mindset of leadership at one of the top rated MBA programs.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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