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Career Corner
Must-Have Skills You Need to Get Your First Job

Cecile Peterkin -- Many job seekers lack skills such as critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity. And it's one of the major reasons why fresh graduates are often rejected in their applications. Here are critical soft skills to develop.

It is a sad fact that college graduates today end up either unemployed or with a job that doesn’t match their qualifications. Of course, the economy is easily to be blamed for this. But one has to realize that with the right skill set, attitude, and job search strategies, a dream job should not forever remain a dream.

One interesting survey conducted by a huge staffing company suggests that the majority of companies and employers are unable to find the right skills they are looking for in job applicants. They do not mean technical skills, however, but soft skills. According to them, so many job seekers lack skills, such as critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity. And this is one of the major reasons why fresh graduates are often rejected in their applications.

So what are the necessary soft skills that you need to develop or enhance for you to be accepted in the workforce?

1. Managing up

It is very common for new graduates to apply for entry-level positions first, usually after an internship at a particular organization. And since these are starter positions, they tend to take it for granted. What they don’t realize is that they need the ability to manage up for them to have a bigger chance of getting noticed by employers.

By managing up, we mean having the skills of observing, listening, and learning everything that your manager may teach you in terms of being a leader. You should also learn what aspects of the business your manager cares so much about, his core values, and what success means to him. Once you get an understanding of this information, it will be easier for you to communicate effectively, deliver expected results, and manage expectations.

2. Transparency

Not everyone understands how important transparency is in the workplace. Transparency is not being all about yourself only. It involves collaborating, considering others, and sharing with others what you know. Employees have the right to express their opinions, but it is also their obligation to participate in whatever the organization is undertaking. This means that you have to learn how what you do can impact the way others in the company are working. And of course, transparency means being aware of your impact on the company’s performance as a whole.

3. Active listening

How well or badly you listen has a significant effect on your career success and your life in general as well. It is important that you know how to listen so you could understand people around you, the society, and your environment. Inability to listen results in failure to understand and learn things.

In active listening, it is not enough that you hear what other people are saying. In fact, what is not said is often more valuable than what is being said. There are people, for instance, who may have unique ideas but not the ability to articulate them clearly. In this case, you should listen to what they are trying to say and not focus on what is actually coming out of their mouth.

Asking appropriate questions is another aspect of active listening. Good leaders know what questions to ask and when to ask them. Great leaders also acknowledge the fact that it is better to hear what a group has to say instead of getting the opinion of a single person.

Ideally, you would want to belong in an organization with a structured mentoring program. This will be a great opportunity for you to learn from the skilled and seasoned members of the company. Nevertheless, being aware of what skills you need to develop is an important step towards becoming a valuable member of any organization.

Cecile Peterkin is a certified career and retirement coach, and a registered member of the Career Professionals of Canada and the International Coach Federation. She is also the Founder and Senior Career Strategist at Cosmic Coaching Center, provider of career and life management services for middle managers and mid-career professionals across Canada, United States and Europe..

© 2014 Cecile Peterkin

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