In a 1949 address to Smith College, Eleanor Roosevelt said “How well prepared are we to live in a world that has constantly grown smaller and where we must rub shoulders with people of different cultures, of completely different customs and habits and religions, who live under different legal systems, whose languages are different?” Her question of the preparedness of young people in the work force is still relevant today, and the answer is that some may not be as well prepared as they should be. Today’s job market requires a variety of skills that will allow professionals to work in a context wider than just their own field.
What does this mean for current students? Experts recommend beefing up the skills portion of a resume with college courses that reflect skills that most other applicants are missing. The job market today is exceptionally competitive, and possessing experience in a few vital skills could make the difference between you and another candidate.
Check out some types of classes that can give you a little boost on your resume after the jump!
STEM, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, experience is one of the talent gaps in the current pool of college graduates. Even if STEM isn’t a part of the job you’re seeking, employers look for the ability to logically approach problems, a skill that is valuable in any field. Chad Oakley, president and COO of executive search firm Charles Aris, Inc., recommends taking a course in data analytics. For example, try Research Strategies, offered at Tompkins Cortland Community College, or The Information Environment, offered at the University at Albany. The College at Brockport offers a class called Research Process, which covers data analysis and interpretation of findings.
Business and economics
It seems obvious, but insight into the inner workings of business and finance, and what it takes to build and operate a successful business can be integral in helping a job candidate succeed in any job. You can take a course like Business Capstone at Hudson Valley Community College, which is a review of economics, accounting, business law, marketing and statistics. Even delving slightly into the financial ins and outs of the business world can be beneficial.
Theater and public speaking
It may sound strange, but theater and improvisation are among some of the skills employers look for. People who are able to present themselves confidently in front of a group of their peers have a huge advantage over their counterparts. Public speaking is an invaluable skill in the job market, as employers are not just looking for someone to sit at a desk and do their work, but someone who can eloquently express themselves in meetings or represent the company well. Classes like Persuasion in Everyday Life at Onondaga Community College, Interpersonal Communication at the University of Buffalo, or Voice and Speech at Purchase College are great classes that can give you a boost.
Along the lines of public speaking and oral communication, written communication skills are vital in the professional world. “We have heard and seen from countless clients that young people today just don’t have good business writing skills,” said Chad Oakley, president and chief operating officer of executive search firm Charles Aris Inc. Writing term papers is one thing, but being prepared to write business proposals or even just a resume can be invaluable when looking for a job. Classes like Business Writing at The College at Brockport or Technical Communication at SUNY Cobleskill. SUNY Plattsburgh even offers a class called Seminar in Professionalism which covers managerial and leadership skills as well as oral and written communications.
Ultimately, the most valuable candidates are those who can present themselves well but also work with others. “If you’re someone who’s focused on harder kinds of sciences or math, courses and activities that give social skills, that encourage teamwork and that help build creativity and develop creativity are really valuable,” said John Challenger, chief executive officer of outplacement consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
Last week, Stephen Colbert sat down with Duke University President Richard Broadhead, who with the American Academy of Arts and Sciences published “The Heart of the Matter“, a report illuminating the need for increased humanities in order to best round out college students’ education.