6 Skills That Help Recent Grads Win Over Hiring Managers

This post was written by Angie Jones, an award-winning, dual-certified Resume Writer and Career Coach, on behalf of the Happy Grad Project. Although the Department of Labor just announced that hiring has returned to the 2008 pre-recession levels, the news wasn’t quite as optimistic for this year’ college graduates. Unfortunately, those graduating this spring are going to find the job market more competitive than ever. Related: HIRE ME! 7 Tips For Getting A Job After College Justified or not, poll after poll shows that many hiring managers find it easier to leave jobs unfilled than take a chance on a new college graduate. Why? Because hiring managers believe that many of today’s graduates are inadequately prepared for the workplace. Studies show employers are concerned that candidates lack soft skills such as communication, critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration - all of which are necessary to successfully navigate the business environment. Some employers are becoming more flexible in their requirements and will offer training to a candidate who is otherwise a good fit for the role. But others will hold out for a candidate that matches all their skill requirements – both hard and soft. While your technical knowledge may win an interview, your people skills will be the deciding factor on winning the job. So, what exactly are soft skills versus hard skills? Hard skills are specific and can be technical (i.e., software development) or industry specific (i.e., sales management). Soft skills, on the other hand, tend to relate to personality, however, they can also be learned and developed. Whether writing your resume, interviewing for a job, or simply networking with others in your desired field, it is important to mirror your skills and experience to the employer’s needs. Here are six skills that help recent grads win over hiring managers and employers:

1. Adaptability

Provide an example of a time when you were forced to keep calm while working under pressure or shown a willingness to take on new challenges at short notice.

2. Team building and leadership

Include volunteer work if it pertains to team building and leadership. Example: Served as Volunteer Coordinator for Best Friends Animal Sanctuary from 2012-2014. Describe a role where you were required to lead a school project.

3. Communication, mathematics and technical skills

Listing relevant coursework will allow you to demonstrate that you have at the very least been taught to write professionally, develop spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations, and otherwise communicate effectively. Affiliations and/or club memberships such as Debate Club or Toastmasters will help demonstrate both your organizational and presentation skills.

4. Problem-solving, critical thinking

Do background research on the company were you’d like to work. Hiring managers can tell who has done their research and it will set you apart from your competition.

5. Conflict resolution

Be prepared to provide an example where you were forced to react to conflict and what you did to resolve it.

6. Work ethic

Provide the hiring manager with letters of reference that speak to your commitment and strong work ethic. You don’t need to be an expert in your field to win the job. Rather, all you really need is a great personality, the willingness to continually improve, and confidence. Combine these traits with your soft skills and you will become an amazing asset to any company!

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