A student of mine approached me this week seeking advice on how to increase her professional competitiveness. I asked her what skills she possessed and her response was simply, “Well, I’ll soon have a college degree”. Her response is quite common amongst students. Why is a job expected or entitled after graduation? It has been said that a college degree is now considered the new high school diploma. This means that the majority of applicants out in the market already have a college degree, thus making a college graduate more generic. It certainly doesn’t guarantee anyone a job after graduation. Often times, employers complain that their “educated” new hires lack basic qualifications and struggle to keep up in today’s evolving business climate. So what does it take to stand out from the hundreds of other applicants?
I recommend that students have an extra talent or skill before graduating to set them apart from their future competition. There are a couple skills which do that. The first skill is to learn a second language. Globalization offers you great opportunity to succeed in many industries, presupposing you have the ability to communicate with different cultures. If you want to be the most competitive and desired applicant or qualified employee, know a second language.
Another skill is customer service which should incorporate cultural competence. As our planet blends into one big melting pot of nationalities, ethnicities, languages, religions, and beliefs, you’re ability to communicate and build relationships with people very different from yourself, will lead you to larger networks and therefore more opportunities for success.
Lastly, become technology savvy. I know this skill can be scary and intimidating for many of you but it is necessary for most careers. Even competence in basic computer programs will increase your worth as an employee. In the next few years, our world will experience significant change due to technological advancements. For example, social business is a force moving at immeasurable speeds that everyone can benefit from. Don’t fight it or avoid it, understand it and master it. Only a small percentage of people use social media and social business in its most effective measure.
Within the next few weeks, I will invite industry leaders within Higher Education, Social Business, and Cross Cultural Education to join me via video blogs to contribute towards our conversations regarding how these skills can increase your competitive edge within our global market.