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Copyright 2004 P.G. Publishing Co.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pennsylvania)

February 22, 2004 Sunday TWO STAR EDITION


LENGTH: 620 words



"10 Things Employers Want You to Learn in College: The Know-How You Need to Succeed" by Bill Coplin. Ten Speed Press, 2003

It's sad but true that in our current economy it's very difficult for new graduates to find meaningful employment. You want to use the academic expertise that took four years and a considerable sum of money to acquire. Your goal is to graduate with a high grade point average so you'll be a desirable job candidate. But are grades alone enough to make you stand out from the competition when you begin the interviewing process?

The answer is, "No," according to author Bill Coplin, a professor and student adviser at Syracuse University. The students, recruiters, employers, and successful alumni he has worked with make it clear that while grades certainly matter, they aren't necessarily the most important thing employers are looking for because they don't reflect the wide range of skills that are necessary in today's workplace.

Coplin realized that students who had mastered certain skill sets outside the classroom were more likely to achieve future success. "10 Things" synthesizes these essential skills into "Know-How Groups." The 10 broad categories include establishing a work ethic; developing physical skills; communicating orally; communicating in writing; working directly with people; influencing people; gathering information; using quantitative tools; asking and answering the right questions; and solving problems.

This book provides a practical blueprint for developing proficiency in each of the Know-How Skill areas while you are in college. Courses and noncourse activities are suggested, along with the minimum skill level you should achieve by the time you graduate. Many sections conclude with a list of useful print and online resources. For example, you should be able to speak in front of a group without suffering from extreme stage fright. Take a speech communications course that focuses on presenting to groups. Join organizations that require you to speak in front of others. Make a point of developing the interpersonal skills that you'll need during your job interviews and in every job you take. Volunteer to work for a political candidate, get a job in the alumni office cold-calling for donations or get a job in your college library. The main thing is to seek out possibilities for demonstrating initiative and a strong work ethic.

If you can design a Web page, put together a PowerPoint presentation, create a spreadsheet and know some of the more advanced software programs such as PageMaker and Access, you'll be invaluable to potential employers. Take courses and jobs that require you to sharpen your research and Internet searching skills. Learn how to collect and analyze data and develop effective problem-solving strategies. Discover techniques for managing your time and money well, because discipline in these areas is vital to getting and keeping a job.

Many first-time job seekers are passed over in the hiring process in favor of other candidates who may be less qualified but are able to write and speak effectively and have the ability to think quickly on their feet. If you follow the good advice proffered in "10 Things Employers Want You to Learn in College," you will be positioned far ahead of your classmates as you begin the search for a promising career. Both college students and their tuition-paying parents will be glad they took this course.

Also recommended are:

* "The Game Makers: The Story of Parker Brothers from Tiddledy Winks to Trivial Pursuit" by Philip E. Orbanes. Harvard Business School Press, 2004.

* "Accounting for Managers" by William H. Webster. McGraw Hill, 2004.

LOAD-DATE: February 24, 2004

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