As we approach the last weeks of Summer many of us are dealing with either an end or a beginning. Many Spring graduates put off the inevitable task of finding a job for the allure of travel, being with friends or just getting some rest after school. Meanwhile, many students were working jobs or enjoying summertime in preparation for the upcoming school year. In either case, a successful outcome for the next step of finding employment or beginning a successful school year requires a focus on the skills that are needed.
Why Focus on Skills?
The nature of work is changing every day – technology is making some jobs more accessible and is eliminating others. The idea of having a single job for your career is increasingly unlikely, and while this may seem scary, it is also really exciting. Acquiring and being able to demonstrate more skills will allow you to increase your value in the workforce and transition more easily from one position to another.
Entering the Workforce?
As individuals begin to enter the workforce and develop a successful career path, the first step is to understand the skills needed in the workplace. Once you know the skills that are needed, you must then inventory the activities that you’ve undertaken to determine which of those skills you possess and find the most effective way to communicate those skills to the employer that most interests you. It is important to remember during this process that you can acquire skills by doing many things in addition to attending school – military experience, volunteer activities, and other jobs can provide you with the skills that are needed in the workplace. It is also important to connect your experiences directly to the skills that the job requires, not just put together a laundry list of activities and hope that the person reviewing your information can find what they need. Employers are looking for people who have the right skills – be clear and be specific in order to make yourself stand apart from others.
Going Back to School?
If you’re getting to go back to school – whether high school, college, or training programs – you will inevitably look at a required course or activity and question why that is necessary. There are many foundational skills like basic math, effective communication or teamwork that virtually every employer is seeking. Ideally, your school or education provider is closely linked to employers and is ensuring that the curriculum you are required to take matches closely the specific skills that employers are seeking. However, it is also important for you to learn and understand the skills that are required for jobs you may be seeking. If you are unsure, you should meet with your institution’s guidance or career counseling professionals to see if they can point you in the right direction. If that doesn’t get you what you need, then you can reach out to employers and ask what they’re looking for. You are using valuable time and spending significant dollars to get education, and it is important to know that you are getting what you need for your success.
Whether your objective is to get a job now or you’re going back to school and planning for the future, it is an exciting time. By focusing on skills can you better understand what you need to be successful no matter what you want to achieve.