6 Vital Job Skills You Won’t Learn at University
You can gain a plethora of knowledge about a wide range of subjects at university — from sociological theories to the history of the Middle East to how to synthesise compounds in a lab — but you may not come away with all the practical skills you need to succeed in the world of work. We've come up with six important job skills you need to make sure you develop before you graduate.
Job Skill 1: How to Negotiate
Effective negotiation and bargaining tactics are good skills to have for a job that will serve you well in your personal interactions as well. However, these work skills aren't usually taught at university — even in business courses.
Negotiation is a constant in the workplace. Companies negotiate with suppliers about rates, with clients about project scope, and with customers about price. Employees and employers negotiate about salaries and benefits during the hiring process and about promotions and raises later in their careers. One of the key skills for jobs that you can be sure those in high-power positions have mastered is negotiation — and how and when to compromise.
Job Skill 2: How to Write Concisely
While at university, you may have taken a business writing course to learn how to write grammatically and in a formal and professional tone. These are excellent job skills that will serve you well in the working world. What's often left out of these courses, however, is how to make your point quickly and effectively.
If you're an English or social sciences student, your papers probably received marks for their length and substance. But unless you're working in academia, long sentences and complex grammatical constructions don't translate well to the working world. Learning to write concisely is one of the most important skills needed for a job. Busy professionals simply don't have time to read a thesis, so distil your ideas down to their essential components before presenting them to your manager or colleagues. A bulleted or numbered list is much easier to read than a three-paragraph email.
Job Skill 3: How to Network
When you're at university, it's easy to meet lots of new people who have similar interests and develop a social network, without much effort. Did you learn how to leverage that into career success, though, or just to become as popular as possible? Even students who are very involved in extracurricular activities in school and build large social networks can have trouble translating them into professional networks.
So, what job skills can you utilise to build a network that will help you with a job search or career progression? Focus on seeking out mentors in your field of interest, building those relationships, and putting in the effort to maintain them. People want to help you, but not when you always need something. Maintain relationships for their own value, and career help will come.
Job Skill 4: How to Make Small Talk
You may have mastered starting conversations with other students you don't know at the library, pub, or a party — after all, you already have a lot in common — but carrying those conversational skills into the real word can be tricky.
While may seem awkward at first, making small talk with prospective employers and coworkers and with other professionals at networking events should be high on your list of essential work skills. To avoid a lull in the conversation, ask about specific projects someone' been working on or bring up an interesting bit of industry news. Make sure to give an interesting answer in return.
Job Skill 5: How to Resolve Workplace Conflicts
Not getting along with a classmate probably didn't have too many consequences at university; but it can wreak havoc on your career. Conflicts are inevitable at work — colleagues disagree about what to do and how to do it. While some might view the office as a constant competition for credit, pay, and promotions, a combative attitude won't get you as far as mutually respectful relationships.
So, what career skills will help you to avoid burning bridges? Learning how to communicate clearly and directly and to demonstrate appreciation for others can help to keep work relationships on an even keel. Our advice is to get past any emotional hang-ups and learn to operate sincerely to watch your career flourish.
Job Skill 6: How to Solve Business Problems
Every business has problems — one might need to increase their customer base while another might need to reduce their budget or develop a new product. Companies want to hire employees who think strategically to both identify problems and come up with workable solutions.
Learning these important job skills before you graduate will help you to land you first job and to advance throughout you career. Get off to a good start by researching a company's problems before a job interview so you can come ready to suggest fixes.
Build Your Job Skills at Monster
Now that you know what job skills are important for you to develop, you can start to build them during your job search. Still feeling stuck? Monster can walk recent graduates like you through the whole job search process, including how to write a resume and cover letter, how to negotiate, how to network, and more to make the transition from uni to the office as smooth as possible.