One of the key competitive advantages of a liberal arts education in general, and of a Juniata experience in particular, is the development of a well-rounded set of skills that are valuable to an employer.
- Employability skills and personal values are the critical tools and aptitudes you need to succeed in the workplace, and they are abilities that you can cultivate and hone over your lifetime.
- Identify your skill-sets and values, document them and market them (in your resume, cover letter and interview answers).
- Be sure you can provide evidence of how you developed the skills you claim. For example, if you developed teamwork skills by participating in group projects for academic classes, be prepared to talk about those projects, remember which classes they were from and have one or two examples regarding how you performed in that group.
Workplace Skill Sets Sought by Employers
These are critical skills employers seek in prospective employees. Be sure to incorporate these into your resume and cover letter!
- Communication Skills (listening, verbal, written) - One of the skills mentioned most often by employers as critical to their success.
- Analytical/Research Skills - Deals with your ability to assess a situation, seek multiple perspectives, gather more information if necessary and identify key issues that need to be addressed.
- Computer/Technical Literacy - Almost all jobs now require some basic understanding of computer hardware and software, especially word processing, spreadsheets and email.
- Managing Multiple Priorities - Deals with your ability to manage multiple assignments and tasks, set priorities and adapt to changing conditions and work assignments.
- Interpersonal Abilities - The ability to relate to your co-workers, inspire others to participate and mitigate conflict with co-workers is essential given the amount of time spent at work each day.
- Leadership/Management Skills - While there is some debate about whether leadership is something people are born with, these skills deal with your ability to take charge and manage your co-workers.
- Multicultural Sensitivity/Awareness - There is possibly no bigger issue in the workplace than diversity, and job seekers must demonstrate a sensitivity and awareness to other people and cultures.
- Planning/Organizing - Deals with your ability to design, plan, organize and implement projects and tasks within an allotted time frame. Also involves goal-setting.
- Problem-Solving/Reasoning/Creativity - Involves the ability to find solutions to problems using your creativity, reasoning and past experiences along with the available information and resources.
- Teamwork - Because so many jobs involve working in one or more work groups, you must have the ability to work with others in a professional manner while achieving a common goal.
Personal Values Sought by Employers
Of equal importance to skills are the values, personality traits and personal characteristics that employers seek. Look for ways to weave examples of these characteristics into your resume, cover letters and answers to interview questions.
- Integrity - Involves demonstrating that you are honest, fair and moral. Employers need to believe that you will not steal from the company, cheat on your time card or lie on your resume.
- Adaptability/Flexibility - Involves being able to work in a variety of environments, both as a self-starting individual and as part of a team.
- Strong Work Ethic - Involves being at work on time every day, being a good time manager and always giving your best effort to your employer.
- Responsible - Involves being accountable for your actions, not passing the buck and performing the tasks you are called to do.
- Loyalty - Involves always speaking highly about your company/employer in public, always representing your employer positively and professionally and never using trade secrets to help yourself or someone else.
- Positive Attitude - Involves demonstrating that you are motivated and passionate about your employer and the work you do. Also involves demonstrating that you promote a positive work environment and keep negativity and gossip at bay.
- Professionalism - Involves appropriate behavior and dress at all times, handling workplace difficulties with maturity and always acting in the best interest of your employer.
- Self-Confidence - Involves being self-assured in your abilities to provide what the company needs. Do not confuse self-confidence with arrogance: expressing your ability to learn what the employer needs you to know is confidence, ensuring your employer that you already know everything you need is arrogance.
- Self-Motivation - Involves having the ability to figure out what you need to do and then following through, as well as having the capability to work with little or no supervision.
- Willingness to Learn - Different from your ability to learn in that you should always be willing to learn a new skill, process or technique.