Ever thought about what skills employers are looking for? Joel Bisser, the service learning coordinator at Minnesota School of Business-Lakeville, discusses what skills employers find most valuable and how students obtain them in their professional communications classes.
In a 2013 The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) survey, managers were asked what skills they prioritize when hiring college graduates. According to the survey as reported by Forbes (2013) here are the 10 skills employers say they seek, in order of importance:
1. Ability to work in a team
2. Ability to make decisions and solve problems
3. Ability to plan, organize and prioritize work
4. Ability to communicate verbally with people inside and outside an organization
5. Ability to obtain and process information
6. Ability to analyze quantitative data
7. Technical knowledge related to the job
8. Proficiency with computer software programs
9. Ability to create and/or edit written reports
10. Ability to sell and influence others
These are the very skills that students learn and apply when they take Professional Communications I and II.
“I was at work the other day and actually saw a memo. I didn’t think they existed,” said MSB business student Nicole Fideler. “It’s pretty cool to know that what we’re learning in the classroom applies directly to our careers.”
Students in Professional Communications I learn the basics: customer service, verbal and nonverbal communication, teamwork and running an effective meeting.
In Professional Communications II, writing professionally worded and formatted documents is the main focus. As if they were “on the job,” students conduct research, analyze and synthesize information and then present their findings in both memo and informal report formats.
Throughout both courses, students practice writing efficient and effective business emails (with appropriate formatting and correct grammar, punctuation and spelling) another skill that, according to many employers, is lacking in our “lol” texting world.
Students often say, “I don’t have the experience,” but in reality, they often do. When speaking with potential employers, students should refer to group projects, service/applied learning projects and documents that they created in their classes at MSB.
Also, it’s important to remember that students and grads have most likely exhibited these skills, even at a part-time job. For example, if someone worked at a fast food restaurant, he/she could discuss working in a 10 member team that handled multiple food orders with exceptional customer service.
The challenge for recent grads is to communicate to employers that they possess these skills early in the application process on their resume and cover letter, which are also covered in Professional Communications. In Career Capstone, students will go even deeper into employment writing and interviewing.
MSB faculty and career services staff know what employers want and work to prepare you for your dream career!
Written by Joel Bisser, service learning coordinator