Top Skills for College Graduates

Top 6 Skills for a College Grad

Regardless of your age or your job title in life, you will need to be disciplined about learning.  Consciously working on building key skills and attributes will help ensure a successful vocational trajectory year over year.  As educators and national publishers, we continue to see compelling evidence of changes you need to be aware of today in the evolving marketplace.  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

Large, broad-based research from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU), and a variety of private surveys by independent agencies reveal a similar result.  The common thread among these survey results is the fact that the single biggest influence of an employer’s decision during the hiring process is leadership.  Executive managers and leaders of all types around the globe have attempted to articulate what leadership means and how it impacts 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 are not innate.  Rather, leadership skills are created over time by individuals working hard on developing key attributes.  Leaders often talk about taking initiative, active listening, personal growth, reading voraciously, investing in education, asking better questions, improving communication skills, refining decision making, and engaging with others more effectively.

2. Technical & Analytic Skills

Developing a robust set of quantitative and analytic skills is a habit of mind.  College graduates that harness this ability can apply disparate data to solve a host of problems. Quantitative skills leverage the information within a defined context to interpret real-world problems; meanwhile, statistical analysis and high-level math will typically grapple with more generalized abstractions.  Spend quality time learning about analytic and quantitative disciplines in an effort to increase your skill set.

On the other hand, learning how to develop a set of robust technical skills is ever-more important in today’s work environment.  The need for technical proficiency permeates all industries in our economy from healthcare to finance to software engineering.  Enhancing your technical skills can come by way of taking technical class like probability, reading technical books, and long-term commitment to learning new skills.  Examples of technical skills that may be worth investigating include computer coding, software design, game theory, computer hardware, graphic design, and computational math.

3. Global and Local

In order to thrive going forward, 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 a process used by individuals to think about people, things, and systems in a holistic manner.  It can include understanding how people behave, view the work, think about others, and how they interact in a given situation.  Improving your strategic planning skills in your career can help at any level.  From an executive director to a first-line manager, integrative thinking can help resolve complex issues and eliminate problems before they surface.

Invest time into growing strategic planning skills for you and your team.  The net results can be exponential as entire organizations can benefit from strategically planning activities and events.  Leading a team-wide planning session can be a tool used by your team or division to maximize results and reduce inefficiencies.

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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