For new college graduates, entering the job market is an exciting time. As a recent graduate, there are many skills I learned in school that I was excited to apply to my first job, and yet I found there were many important skills I had not considered. Beyond tactical skills that apply directly to my job description, there are five critical skills that I found important to success in my post-graduation role.
- Teamwork: In most cases, a job immediately following college requires you to work within a team. Having the ability to be a leader, but also a team player, is important. There will be situations where you will need to be nimble and take direction, and other times that your skills and ideas will play a larger role. Lead your team when necessary, but also pitch in to get the job done. This will increase your team’s productivity and overall success.
- Communication: Any time you are working with people, communication is extremely important to consider. In your new role, you may find that you work primarily with external customers, internal or a mixture of both. Regardless, your communication with them should be top of mind. When communicating with technology, keep in mind that business emails are written much differently than an email to a friend or family member. Your communications at work should be well-organized, free of grammar mistakes, clear and easy to read. Limit the number of exclamation points, slang and emoticons used in order to avoid looking unprofessional. Oral communication is also extremely important when working in a business setting. Your employer wants to see that you can communicate professionally and effectively. Not only does this protect their professional reputation, but it helps you establish yours.
- Be proactive: The ability to be proactive in your new role is a quality desired by almost every employer. Managers of self-starters, who don’t wait to be told to take action, are more likely to instill trust in their managers. Take initiative and be proactive at your new job. If you find that you begin to complete tasks with ease and are seeking more of a challenge, ask your supervisor or boss if you can take on a more challenging assignment. They will likely be impressed with your ability to actively seek out new assignments within your current role.
- Flexibility: If you worked at a job or internship in college, there’s a good chance that you were able to work your way up within that particular company. After graduation, chances are that you have found yourself at a more junior position in a new company. With this comes a new level of need for flexibility. Working with multiple experience levels, generations and personalities of employees can be challenging at first. As coworkers, peers and bosses come and go, priorities and preferences will change. It’s important to be flexible to the communication styles, preferences, work abilities, habits and even irritants of those around you. By having a willingness to be adaptable to the ways of your new colleagues, you will find that you have more successful work relationships.
- Authenticity: While keeping in mind the need to be flexible for your colleagues, it’s also important to remain confident in your skills, preferences and the individual you are. If you have a great idea to put forward, speak up! If you don’t know the answer to something, ask! If you find that there are areas in which you are lacking confidence, look further into how to shore up this gap. If you aren’t as confident about a particular skill as you would like, seek out further training or a mentor. The more confidence that you have in your abilities at work, the more you will be respected among your colleagues.
For recent graduates, what other advice have you found helpful when you took your first role? For leaders of recent graduates, what advice would you suggest for those exiting college and entering the workplace? Share your comments and experience with us.
Courtney Farris is a project coordinator at Innovative Career Consulting Inc./OI Global Partners and graduated from Colorado State University in 2013 with a BS in Psychology.