Standing out in today’s saturated job market represents a challenge for all undergrads. A college diploma is no longer enough to get you the job as hundreds of similarly-qualified young professionals compete for every entry-level job, sometimes even with experienced professionals looking for a new direction.
To ensure your resume lands on top, you need a combination of soft skills and experiential learning experiences – along with your college degree.
As a college student, you likely spend most of your time hitting the books to learn facts and methodologies. But in the real world, book smarts won’t carry you through the Monday through Friday grind. Employers know this, which is why they look for well-rounded candidates that have honed their minds through college but have also focused on developing the soft skills that make a positive impact in the workplace.
Presentation skills, maintaining a professional image and following proper business etiquette are just a few of the soft skills that many college grads lack. Look for business clubs on campus that will help you develop these soft skills and seek opportunities within your regular course load to learn how to effectively work in teams and set goals – two other important soft skills.
“For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.”
While research shows that the majority of learning comes through experience, our education system relies highly on instructor-led training in a formal setting to teach future professionals. There’s a significant missed opportunity for development that can only come from experiential learning – the process of making meaning from direct experience.
Combined with your college courses, you should be applying what you learn through internships, volunteer work and job shadowing. Explore different job fields and actually try your hand at different tasks. You can then leverage these experiences through your resume and interviews post-graduation.
By combining the knowledge you gain through your college education with a variety of soft skills and experiential learning experiences, you will have the real-world tools you need to land your first job and succeed throughout your career.
Photo credit: Sean Svadilfari via Flickr