Top Skills for College Graduates

Top 6 Skills for a College Grad

Students of all ages will need to consciously work on building key skills to help ensure success in their careers.  As educators, we are seeing compelling evidence of ever-evolving changes in the marketplace that you need to be aware of today.  Understanding these trends, acknowledging your biases, and properly preparing for the future will help you thrive today and beyond college graduation.

Technology is an enormous driver of commerce, workforce development, and consumer behavior today more than ever before.  In this agile and operationalized world, how do you know what to prepare for?  To keep your skills relevant, we have summarized a quick list of 6 critical skills to help you set yourself up for success and set yourself apart from others in your industry of choice.

1. Leadership Skills

According to a variety of research from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU), and a variety of private surveys completed on the subject, the single biggest influence of an employer’s decision during the hiring process is leadership.  CEO’s and leaders around the world have attempted to articulate what leadership means to them and their respective organizations.

As ambiguous as some definitions may be to grasp, it has been and will continue to be critical to invest the time to understand leadership.  Not only the concept of leadership, but the totality of leadership, how it affects you, the impact on others, and actionable steps you can take to improve your leadership skills.  Leadership skills can be developed over time with a focus on personal growth, taking initiative, voraciously reading, investing in your education, learning to ask better questions, improving your communication skills, enhancing decision making capabilities, and learning to be a more effective listener.

2. Technical & Analytic Skills

Developing strong analytic and quantitative skills is a habit of mind to apply data to solve a wide range of problems. Quantitative skills emphasize information within a specific context to better interpret real-world problems while an adjacent field like mathematics will often grapple with generalized abstractions.  Spend time learning more about analytic and quantitative disciplines to improve your current skill set today.

On the other hand, technical skills learning how to develop a set of robust technical skills is vital in today’s workforce.  The need for technical skills permeates every industry from education to business to healthcare with an ever-growing importance in the workplace across the glove.  How to best improve your technical skills comes in the form of reading technical books, immersing yourself in technical classes, and committing to learning new skills (such as software, coding, computer hardware, games, and theories).

3. Global and Local

In order to thrive in 2017, it is vital that you create a global mindset.  A global mindset is basically the understanding of how things are interconnected from country to country and nation to nation.  Taking a course in global diversity, sociology, logistics, foreign language, and international business will help you better comprehend a global mindset.  This broad, global perspective is fused with an expertise of your own backyard.  Meaning, in order to thrive in 2017 students and professionals alike must intimately understand local and global connectedness.  By blending both into strategic planning and project management initiatives will yield the best results.

4. Creativity

Another important attribute important to your success in 2017 is creativity.  Dozens of ideas on how to improve your creativity can be found here or in this video with Sir Ken Robinson.  Taking an existing idea and improving upon it or synthesizing disparate information to arrive at a novel solution takes a high degree of creativity.  How do you synthesize information? Where do you find creative inspiration?  Harnessing this innate power and cultivating it intentionally will help in all aspects of your life.

5. Strategic Planning

Strategic planning is the process that encompasses the way people view, think, and create a future.  Enhancing your strategic planning skills in the workplace is an important skill to develop from the executive level of the organization to a first-line manager.  Invest in your strategic planning skills and those people around you in an effort to expand your horizons and lay the foundation for the many iterations of strategic planning sessions to come.

6. A Growth Mindset

A growth mindset is a concept popularized by Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck.  At its core, a growth mindset is a belief in yourself that you can get smarter and effort drives results.  With an eye towards contentious growth and remaining a curious, lifelong learner, professionals from all corners of the glove will increase their odds of thriving beyond today.   Invest in an online or distance learning course today and test your growth mindset.  Whether a one-off class or a full degree program, remain engaged and always learning.

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