Another year, another batch of new graduates faced with unemployment and underemployment prospects.
There are thousands of job openings currently up for grabs, according to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). But this year’s new graduates will find it difficult to land a job because of job-skills mismatch.
Sound familiar? That’s because that was exactly what they said about last year’s batch too. And it seems that the mismatch between the skills learned in school and the skills required by most employers continues to grow every year.
Job-Skills Mismatch: The Skills You Have vs. The Skills They Want
At the rate technology and jobs are evolving, some of the skills you acquired in college may no longer be enough for the job you’re applying for. This is especially true in today’s fast-paced workplace, where many jobs require new, emerging or hybrid skill-sets.
Many employers recognize this and don’t expect new graduates to hit the ground running on their first day. But what they do expect are basic skills that are required to do any job well.
Unfortunately, many applicants — fresh grads and experienced workers, both — either assume that they already have these basic skills, or shrug them off as irrelevant to the jobs they want. Either way, they don’t see the importance of developing these skills and therefore end up falling short of employers’ expectations.
3 Skills That Employers Are Looking For
So let’s get on with it: aside from your awesome technical skills or savvy business knowledge, what skills do employers want?
Before anyone says “But I’ll be working in front of a computer all day, what do I need communication skills for?” — stop. Unless you plan to be a caveman, you need communication skills no matter where you work, and you better get used to that idea now. Because you need good communications skills if you want to pass that job interview.
Many employers don’t really expect new graduates to talk like a TED Talks speaker. But they do expect someone who just spent 4 or 5 years in college to be able to express themselves and their ideas clearly, both verbally and in writing.
This is because communication in the workplace is crucial in transmitting and receiving information effectively. It’s important for getting things done and avoiding conflicts at work.
So even if you’re going to spend 80% of your time in front of a machine, at some point you will have to talk to someone to pitch an idea, ask questions, make requests (hello, HR and Accounting), or collaborate with others on a task.
Employers don’t give essay exams just for fun. They want to know how well you can communicate your ideas and thoughts in writing. Because even if you’re not applying for a job that includes ‘writing’ in the description, in today’s workplace, written communication is as important as verbal communication.
No matter what industry you’re in, if your job requires you to to send emails, write reports, send proposals to clients, communicate with customers via email, or post a 140-character announcement on your company’s Twitter account — then yes, you need good writing skills.
Despite being digital-savvy and adaptive to technology, millennials get such a bad rep in the workplace. This is mainly due to their ‘soft skills’ or, according to some employers, their lack thereof.
Many employers think that many new graduates and young workers don’t have enough interpersonal skills, critical-thinking skills, problem-solving skills, and other intangible skills fundamental to survive in the workplace.
Show — Don’t Tell
The good news is that some of these soft skills are transferable skills, and you may have already acquired them in school, during internship, at your part-time work, or in other situations. Employers just don’t know it yet.
Naturally, you can’t just put them in your resume and call it a day. To let employers know that you have these skills, you gotta have something to show for it. But because they are ‘intangible’, these soft skills are not easy to measure or showcase. So the best way is to demonstrate these skills during your job application. How?
- Make a creative resume
- Write an exceptional application email with no typos
- Reply to emails and return calls promptly and professionally
- Do your research on the company you’re applying for
- Prepare for both writing exams and interview questions
- Come to your interview on time, and in proper attire
- Be polite in interacting with everyone you encounter in the office, including utility personnel and security guards
Learn Soft Skills
Of course, not all of us are 100% confident in our communication skills, writing skills, and other soft skills. Fortunately, these skills can be learned just like any other skills.
Aside from taking training courses or attending seminars, you can also develop these skills by joining clubs or groups, doing volunteer work, starting a personal project, or taking part-time jobs. This will also boost your resume especially if you have zero work experience and is beneficial not only to your professional but also to your personal development as well.