Every student has a to-do list of skills to learn before graduation.
Some of these things probably include design, math, writing, critical thinking and…the list goes on.
Although we are constantly working on this checklist, employers say that students still don’t have the skills that they need when they graduate.
So, here are two questions to think about: (1) what are a few great skills students should focus on? And (2) how do they fine-tune those skills while in school?
Such important questions require important answers. Luckily, Lisa Buyer, president and CEO of The Buyer Group, shared some advice at a public relations event at BYU about just that.
It’s obvious writing skills are important for almost any line of work. Almost all professors and employers emphasize this, but how well do we really measure up?
Studies show that on a scale of 1-100, students rate their own written communication skills around 65 percent, while employers report that student’s writing abilities are closer to 22 percent. Wow! Talk about a reality check. So, how do we bridge that gap?
“Write as much as you can,” Buyer shared. “You should make a goal to write every day; it doesn’t matter what it is, just do it.”
She goes on to mention that where we write also has a big influence on how we write. She notes that we need to find those special places that free our mind and help the creativity come easily.
BUYER’S SPECIAL TIP: “Mornings are the best time to write. This is when the brain is most refreshed and active. If a student made a daily habit to get up early morning, find their special place and then just write for a few minutes, that student’s writing abilities would improve.”
Knowing social media platforms is a must in today’s job world. Most of us know how to use them pretty well, but Buyer thinks that something is still missing.
“Students know how to use social media,” Buyer said. “But just because they consume it, doesn’t mean they know how to apply it to working situations.”
Social media has nearly endless applications, especially for our future employers. So, when we hit the job market in a few short years, we had better hold up on selfies for a bit and brush up on using social media to do professional things.
Here are a few applications of social media channels in work place:
Facebook: All employers will use some kind of paid advertising. Buyer recommends that simple Facebook advertisements may not seem very applicable, but research shows that they are definitely worth the investment.
Twitter: Twitter is the go-to source for most media relations. Although this platform is currently undergoing some change, the professionals still see this site as one of their main resources for connecting with and pitching to journalists.
Snapchat: Snapchat? For business? Absolutely. You would never have guessed it but Snapchat is now attracting more monthly users than any other social media platform. Businesses are increasingly using this tool to market products and discounts to consumers.
Knowing how to use these channels, and more specifically what to use them for, will definitely help these next few graduating classes find that competitive edge in the job market.
Just like business awards, certifications serve somewhat of the same purpose; they give you accreditation. Whether it’s a certification in another language, volunteer work, the Adobe programs or computer coding, anything like this can add value to our resumes.
One example of a certification that has worked for many students is that of the online marketing superstar, Hootsuite. Having this unique certification on your resume says to employers “Hey! I have actual skills that you want!”
This certification, and others like it, are really something we should all look into getting.
“A lot of my students have gotten jobs because of this,” Buyer commented while teaching at Florida State University. “These things can set you apart.”
So, one thing we can do now is to seek out some good certifications to add to our quiver of sharp, well-defined skills that employers in the job market are looking for.
Refining these skills is what will keep our resumes constantly floating towards the “potential hires” pile on every recruiter’s desk.
Hudson McKay is a student at Brigham Young University and currently serves on the PRSSA board as vice president of member services. When he’s not writing online marketing campaigns or blog posts, you can find him climbing up mountains, being with friends, and crunching on as much flavored ice that he can get his hands on.