The world of work can be a culture shock for new grads who have spent the last 16-plus years in schools where success is defined by A's on their papers, a 4.0 on their transcript, and accolades on their resume. It can especially be a shock for those who scraped by on showing up to class, turning in completed papers, and only being involved when required.
Before graduation, students need to know that a college degree might get you in the door for an interview and increase your earning potential, but it's only part of the employment equation. To land the job, employers aren't only looking at what you know; they want to know what you can do. After all, they have a big pool to choose from. The overall unemployment rate for recent college graduates is at 7.9 percent, and nearly half of all employed recent graduates have jobs that don't require a college degree.
According to data collected in a recent Forbes article, 88 percent of employers are looking for a cultural fit in a prospective employee, rather than a particular skill set. The vast majority of employers aren't asking the applicant if they have mastered their company's systems, but rather: Does this person exude professionalism? Are they excited about the company? Are they confident? Do they crave challenge? Will they self-motivate and self-monitor? Do they have the potential to become an asset to the company?
Unfortunately for students, these skills are largely developed through experience in real life learning labs -- such as a part-time job, an internship, volunteer work, and campus activities -- that aren't always required to earn a degree. Whether or not professional skills are taught in the class curriculum, students can treat each of their classes like it's their career to get the experiential learning they need to be prepared for the world of work.
Employers are looking for new hires who possess the know-how and the soft skills to get the job done, and then some. This year, don't just dress for the job you want, be the professional you want to be. Now is the time to start creating your professional presence. Make a bold statement with your actions and your words.