6 Factors That Determine Career Readiness In College Grads

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During college, GPA is a standard measure of success. But while grades are obviously important to some companies, an applicant's GPA is not the most important factor when it comes to getting a job after graduation. When comparing various job candidates, hiring managers always look beyond a student's transcript. 

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, there are several specific attributes that employers look for in a job candidate’s resume.

Fortunately, many of these skills can be developed while students are in college. For example, the very nature of the higher education system provides opportunities for students to hone their written and verbal communication skills, and learn how to formulate solutions to various problems. Also, students who are involved in campus or community organizations learn how to function as team members and develop leadership skills. Internships are yet another way for students to gain the requisite skills necessary for employment. 

So, what are the attributes that employers look for in a job candidate’s resume, and what are some tips for developing these skills?

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Ability to Work in a Team

It’s unlikely that you’ll be the company’s only employee, so you need to be able to work harmoniously with other workers. Just as humans come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, they also have a range of personalities, preferences, and experiences. While conflicts are inevitable, cooperation is essential to the team’s success. Below are tips for developing teamwork skills:

  • Build rapport with classmates and others
  • Treat everyone with respect
  • Embrace diversity
  • Acknowledge the validity of different viewpoints
  • Practice helping others
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Problem-Solving Skills

Never forget that employers don’t hire applicants who need a job – they hire applicants who cant help them solve problems. While managers will occasionally offer advice, they don’t want employees who never know what to do, constantly ask for guidance and help, and fail to take initiative. Tips for developing problem-solving skills include the following:

  • Identify the problem (what)
  • Analyze the problem (why is this causing a problem)
  • Identify possible solutions (what are the pros and cons of each option)
  • Choose the best solution
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of the solution
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Written Communication Skills

The resume/CV is the first test of your written communication skills. Some applicants get help in editing or even writing these documents. However, once you’re on the job, employers will rightfully expect you to have the skills to compose and respond to email messages, write reports, etc. Tips for gaining effective written communication skills include the following:

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Strong Work Ethic

Workplace productivity – or the lack thereof – cost U.S. companies billions of dollars each year. Employees admit to spending several hours a day surfing the net, checking social media accounts, and socializing with co-workers. Companies want applicants who will do the right thing – without being micromanaged. Tips for gaining a strong work ethic include the following:

  • Show up on time for events and appointments
  • Overcome a “that’s good enough” mentality
  • Don’t make excuses
  • Keep your commitments
  • Learn how to avoid being distracted
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Verbal Communication Skills

What is being said and how it is said are equally important parts of verbal communication. And the ability to interpret what others say is also crucial. Tips for developing verbal communication skills include the following:

  • Maintain eye contact
  • Pay attention to body language (avoid frowning, folding arms across your chest, etc.)   
  • To avoid misunderstanding, evaluate how your message could be received
  • Actually listen to what others are saying, instead of focusing on what you’re going to say next
  • Don’t interrupt others when they are speaking
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Companies want employees who can positively influence others to obtain the desired results. Knowing how to motivate others, increase morale, and delegate responsibilities are some of the leadership traits companies seek. Tips for developing leadership skills include the following:

  • Volunteer to lead groups
  • Encourage and motivate friends and classmates to reach their goals
  • Mediate arguments among your friends
  • Practice being accountable and accepting responsibility when something goes wrong
  • Recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of others

Additional Skills

While this list covers the top six skills that employers seek, they also want applicants to have analytical/quantitative skills, flexibility, be detail oriented, relate well to others, and have technical and computer skills.