Whether going to work or to college after high school, new graduates need to acquire certain skills that will ensure their success in any environment. While technical knowledge is important, employers and educational administrators seek skills that are transferable and useful in the classroom and on the job. These skills, called soft skills, pertain to interpersonal qualities and character traits that define how people react in various situations.
Whether as a student or an employee, new graduates will have to convey their thoughts, ideas and feelings in a clear, articulate and logical manner. Communication, both verbal and written, is key in facilitating healthy relationships between roommates, peers, coworkers, faculty and supervisors. An effective communicator actively listens during discussions and respectfully provides unbiased and honest feedback. Quality writing skills are essential in creating professional reports, emails and other forms of written communication.
Graduating high school usually means an increase in personal responsibility and a decrease in parental oversight. The ability to prioritize tasks, allocate time, meet deadlines, set goals and strategize to achieve goals leads to success in the classroom, on the job and in life. Self-management is crucial to recognizing and controlling behaviors, such as procrastination, that lead to misuse of time. Dr. Barry Zimmerman, an academic self-regulation expert, has found that self-regulation skills are a strong predictor of college academic success.
Employee and educators value the ability to aggressively analyze problems and find solutions. Whether solving conflicts or math problems, finding a resolution requires critical thinking and creativity. Persistence is also key. A great problem solver identifies available resources and provides alternatives rather than leaving the problem unresolved. Resourcefulness also involves the ability to know when and how to ask for assistance from a classmate, professor, coworker or supervisor.
In an ever-evolving world, there will always be something new to learn. In many instances, especially in a college environment, you must be able to learn information without the close supervision of an instructor. Educators and employers welcome those who can initiate the learning process, assimilate new knowledge and apply it to current situations. Employers also appreciate individuals who take advantage of professional development opportunities such as additional training, conferences, webinars and classes.
While academics are based on individual performance, college learning is becoming increasingly collaborative. Collaboration in the workplace is important as well. The United States Department of Labor identifies teamwork as a top skill to master for workplace success. Students and employees alike have to learn how to communicate effectively, value others' thoughts and opinions, complete assigned tasks and sacrifice self-interests for the best interest of the group.
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