• 10 Time Management Skills Every New Manager Needs to Master

    January 31, 2017 by

     

    Becoming a first-time manager can be tough. New managers are often pulled in many directions, and it can seem like the to-do list never ends. But if you ask any successful manager how they manage it all, it’s likely they will say the key is this:

    Successful time-management.

    Poor time management skills can result in missed deadlines, dissatisfied clients, and even increased overtime costs.  Not only do today’s managers today need to focus on ensuring they are managing their time well, but they should also help their employees do the same.

    To help improve performance, Chris Rush, Division Vice President of Strategy, ADP® Small Business Services offer these top 10 time-management techniques new managers can share with employees:

    1. Plan and set goals: Work with employees to set daily, weekly, and monthly goals. For each goal, agree to a timeline for completion and break the goal down into small, manageable assignments. Consider providing employees with task management tools, such as online calendars, project management programs, or a simple to-do list.
    2. Prioritize: Help employees prioritize their responsibilities based on customer benefit and urgency and encourage them to complete tasks starting with those with the highest priority This process requires effective communication to ensure that priorities are properly aligned with company goals.
    3. Organize: Every minute lost because of a misplaced tool, or document is a minute that could have been spent completing a task. Emphasize the importance of an organized work space to help maximize efficiency.
    4. Streamline: Evaluate processes and procedures regularly to ensure efficiency. Managers should have regular discussions with employees to get their insight on more efficient methods for completing their job responsibilities.
    5. Delegate: Proper delegation can ensure the right tasks are assigned to the right people. But, there is more to delegating than simply assigning a task. Explain job duties thoroughly, work with employees to develop a plan for completing the task, monitor progress, and provide the resources and support necessary to reach assigned goals. Most important, share your own knowledge if you, yourself, have done the job before. They will appreciate that personal “shared learning.”
    6. Dedicate time for less pleasant work: It’s human nature to sometimes procrastinate, especially when a difficult or undesirable assignment presents itself. To help employees stay focused, break large projects into smaller parts and schedule specific time (such as the beginning of the workday) for the larger or more unpleasant projects.
    7. Manage communications: For employees on a tight deadline, answering phone calls and emails can be distracting. Consider establishing guidelines for responding to these types of communications. For example, when employees are on a tight deadline, ask them to check voicemail and email at set intervals and respond to urgent communications first. All other communications can be put on hold until after important projects have been completed.
    8. Avoid interruptions: Whenever possible, schedule important job duties for a part of the day when there are fewer disruptions. For example, if an employee is the first one in the office in the morning, this may be a good time to work on assignments that require more concentration. Also, remind employees that interruptions are inevitable, and for planning purposes, they should allow a little extra time for unexpected interruptions.
    9. Schedule tasks for peak performance: If possible, physically or mentally demanding work should be scheduled for when workers are at peak performance. This may vary depending on each employee. Encourage employees to consider when they have the most energy and suggest that, if possible, they to focus on bigger or more important projects during those times.
    10. Help ensure proper balance: No matter how well employees manage their time at work, they are unlikely to perform at their best if they return to work each day stressed or lacking energy. Provide employees with regular rest breaks throughout the day and be aware of applicable state meal and rest break requirements. Consider a wellness program that encourages healthy habits and encourage employees to use their vacation time.

    “Effective time management is important for any business and can be especially important for new managers working with employees that often have multiple responsibilities,” says Rush. “As a manager, it is your responsibility to provide your employees with the training and tools they need to optimize their performance.”

    Use these ten tips to do just that.

    Want more time management tips and other career advice? Stay connected to College Recruiter by visiting our blog, and connect with us on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and YouTube.

  • What HR can learn from Cubs manager Joe Maddon

    January 30, 2017 by

     

    Contributing writer Ted Bauer

    Even if you’re not a baseball or sports fan, one of the bigger non-political stories of 2016 was the Chicago Cubs ending “the curse of the Billy Goat”. The last time the Cubs won the World Series, there hadn’t been a World War yet. After 108 years, they finally won again. There is a message in here for HR and managers.

    There are a lot of reasons why the 2016 version of the Cubs was the team to finally win a championship. The 2003 team had been great, for example, but lost because of another “cursed” situation. Other Cubs teams in 108 years had the ability to win it all. None did. What was different about the 2016 team?

    First, one main factor was that over time, they put a lot of quality young talent together. Eventually, some of those players began hitting their peak around the same time.

    Second, and maybe more importantly, there was an influential person who was tasked with making sure everything was on the same page. That person was Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon. Maddon had only been hired in 2014 after a successful run as manager of the Tampa Bay Rays (he got them to the 2008 World Series, although they lost).

    Maddon has an unconventional style, including printing t-shirts for his team that say “Try Not To Suck:”

    He does other unconventional things, too — hiring DJs, for example, or choosing to live downtown when most MLB managers (often well-paid) opt for large houses outside the city their team represents.

    What are the lessons that managers or HR teams could take from Maddon? Continue Reading

  • How to describe the value of your liberal arts degree

    January 27, 2017 by

     

    With increasing vacancies for STEM related jobs, liberal arts students might be feeling left behind. If you are in college and would rather study Psychology than Biology, or you prefer World History over Engineering, don’t despair. Employers do value liberal arts skills because you have unique skills to offer. However, if you don’t work on marketing these skills, employers may pass you over. We spoke with Michele Mavi, a job search expert at Atrium Staffing. Michele told us how students can market their liberal arts degree.

    College Recruiter: What are liberal arts anyway?

    Michele: A liberal arts education is interdisciplinary and while students have a concentration in one subject they have a broad range of requirements that leave a student with a well-rounded view of the world and an understanding of how different disciplines contribute to broader global issues.

    How can a liberal arts student make the case that they are employable?  

    A recent study sited that communication skills are the top skill employers look for in new grads. This is where liberal arts majors excel. Almost all courses of study build communication skills, from the obvious writing and literature classes to modern European history. Liberal arts majors are exposed to coursework in many different disciplines. They are forced to analyze things, conduct research and form opinions. They need to make a case for their point of view and use logic and critical thinking to formulate a compelling viewpoint and then be able to communicate that viewpoint in a way that makes sense, even to someone who might not hold the same opinion. It’s a skill that will take people far in the business world!

    Employers value critical thinking skills. Why are liberal arts students better prepared as critical thinkers?  Continue Reading

  • Disciplining and terminating employees: A guide for first-time managers

    January 26, 2017 by

     

    For many managers, especially first-time managers, giving candid, constructive feedback is the toughest part of their jobs.

    And that’s why disciplining and/or terminating employees is so difficult for recent college grads and entry-level managers, says Don Maruska, founder and CEO of three Silicon Valley companies author of How Great Decisions Get Made and Take Charge of Your Talent.

    “Many supervisors shy away from giving effective feedback because they fear how employees will react,” says Maruska, who earned his BA magna cum laude from Harvard and his MBA and JD from Stanford, and also previously led projects for McKinsey & Company, a trusted advisor and counselor to many of the world’s most influential businesses and institutions. “When they finally give the feedback, they often have built up such frustration that the feedback becomes an unproductive battle rather than a positive step forward.”

    Because many managers lack the proper training, preparation, or confidence disciplining or terminating an employee, they may ignore the situation. That’s the wrong approach.

    “Don’t let the sun set without giving feedback on any performance that isn’t on target,” says Maruska. “That may sound like a tough standard, but every day that goes by only makes the situation more difficult.”

    Tips for disciplining an employee

    Lois Barth, a human development expert, career/life coach, motivational speaker and author of the new book, Courage to Sparkle, says managers should look to educate and create consensus versus simply just disciplining an employee, or scolding them for poor performance or breaking company rules or policies that don’t quite warrant termination. When there is a situation when you have to discipline someone, focus on their behavior versus them as a person, says Barth.

    “As a manager, when you can call out their behavior versus their value as a human being, people will feel less defensive,” says Barth. “Instead of punishing the employee, use your authority as a leader to educate them on why that policy is in place. When people can wrap their mind around the why they are usually pretty good with the what.”

    Maruska provides this highly effective formula for providing feedback when disciplining employees that yields constructive results:

    Intention: State your intention clearly in terms that show what’s in it for the employee and the firm. For example, “Sam, I want you to be a productive and successful contributor to our team’s growth.”

    Observation: Describe what you observe in objective terms. Think through your feedback so that you can deliver it in ways that identify behavior rather than challenge the person’s worth. For example, “When the sales reports arrive after noon on Friday, our team can’t get the results out in time for the sales people to plan next week’s priorities.”

    Request: Make it simple, short, and direct. For example, “Sam, will you give me a plan for how you can reliably deliver the sales reports by noon each Friday?”

    Confirmation: Be clear about your agreement. For example, “I’ll look forward to your plan by the close of the day tomorrow. OK?”

    Tips for terminating an employee

    Terminating an employee can be stressful and nerve-wracking for first-time managers. Managers who have access to HR departments, or legal resources within their company should utilize those resources before terminating an employee. It may even be beneficial to have HR lead the meeting, and/or be present in the room during the meeting. HR can also provide the terminated employee with information on paperwork, issue the final paycheck if applicable, and provide any other legal, contractual information, or papers to sign. If it’s a small company, don’t hesitate to ask the company owner or other leadership to be in the room when terminating an employee. Eric Meyer, a partner in Philadelphia-based Dilworth Paxson LLP’s labor and employment group, recommends at least two people be present during any termination meeting. The reason, says Meyer, is so one person can take notes of what is said. If there is litigation, this will avoid a dispute about what was actually said.

    In some cases, a termination is obvious, and warrants nothing more than a straight-forward statement, simply saying “thank you for your work, but we have decided to terminate your employment.” Be prepared for the employee to be frustrated, especially if they don’t feel it’s warranted.

    If the conversation goes deeper, do not attack the individual.

    “Terminations get messy when the terminated employee feels that his or her self-worth is on the line,” says Maruska. “You need to separate performance from the person.”

    If feedback is given during a termination meeting, especially if an employee is let go through a layoff, or because the company is downsizing, highlight the strengths of the employee, and tell the employee you’d like to support them in their next step or opportunity. “This is not only more humane but also quicker and cheaper than making the termination a contest of wills,” says Maruska.

    And finally, practice before you go live with either a discipline or termination meeting. Being straightforward and clear can be a tough transition for recent college grads, especially new managers who are now managing friends, so find opportunities to practice giving feedback with another manager, colleague, or friend. Focus on your tone, body language, and non-verbal cues to come off polished and professional. Most of all, be confident in your delivery.

    Having difficult conversations is difficult. But it’s part of what it takes for millennials to be a good manager. Follow these tips and prepare now to succeed later when terminating or disciplining and employee.

    Want more management tips and career advice? Stay connected to College Recruiter by visiting our blog, and connect with us on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and YouTube.

  • Communication skills factor into who gets promoted

    January 25, 2017 by

     

    Are communication skills a factor in deciding who gets a promotion?

    According to research from Accountemps, CFOs say poor interpersonal skills is the most common reason for employees to fail to advance at their company. For example, you need verbal communication skills to explain the reasoning behind business decisions to various audiences. You need to master public speaking or presentation skills in order to move up the ladder into leadership roles. Even if you are in an entry-level position, it’s not too early to learn to present information in a compelling way, and to package information and explain technical information to stakeholders.

    What are examples of how employees do not have good communication skills? 

    Continue Reading

  • 5 hidden skills new managers develop that benefit career growth

    January 24, 2017 by

    Becoming a manager provides great on-the-job training opportunities for the recent college grad or entry-level employee. It not only provides opportunities to grow as a leader, but also as a professional. In fact, many managers – years down the road – realize that the hidden skills they developed as an entry-level manager helped them grow professionally, more than they ever realized.

    How so? Becoming a manager – a good manager that is, forces individuals to learn how to see things differently, act differently, and grow as a professional, differently than they may have if they weren’t in a leadership position early in their career.

    Here are five of those hidden skill sets good entry-level managers develop that prove beneficial as they advance in their career, from Deb LaMere, Vice President of Employee Experience at Ceridian, a human capital management firm:

    1. Active Listening: Active listening is a beneficial skill that should be developed early on in ones’ career. It means taking a step back and really focusing in on what your employees have to say. By doing so, you will hear and learn about situations or issues at work or beyond that may be affecting your employees. This is information that you may otherwise miss if you didn’t take the time to actively listen.
    2. Ability to recognize non-verbal cues: Developing the ability to read non-verbal cues such as facial expressions or posture is an important skill when it comes to managing people and solving issues. Why? Because sometimes what people say is not entirely what they mean. Alongside listening, non-verbal cues provide insight into potential issues that may need further discussion and solving. Also, as a manager, you need to become more self-aware of any non-verbal cues that you may be expressing. This type of self-awareness will help you gain more control over your message delivery when giving feedback.
    3. The ability to adapt and change: Another valuable skill to hone in on is being able to change your leadership style to meet the needs of the situation. Even as a manager, you yourself will report to someone. Your style of leadership around those who you report to may need to be different from the style you display around your direct reports. In some cases, you need to be supportive of the individual employee as their leader and in others, you need to put the company’s mandate first. You’ll quickly learn, as a manager, how to work with different personalities, leaderships styles (including your own and your boss’ leadership styles), and the many quirks, challenges, and perspective each individual brings to the workplace.
    4. The art of recognition: The art of recognition is a skill that every leader should have when it comes to motivating employees. Remembering to say thank you goes a long way. If you take the time to recognize the work that employees are doing, it makes them feel valued. They will respect you further and you will be seen as that leader who is supportive – someone who people will want to work with, for a long time.
    5. You are a role model: Lastly – and this is not so much a skill, but an important value that both new and seasoned managers should uphold – remember, that you are a role model. That means regularly doing the right thing even when you think no one is watching or paying attention. Leadership is nothing, without integrity.

    Being a manager is hard work – not everyone can do it. But you are in that role, and have a great opportunity to develop hidden skill sets as a young professional. So take advantage of both on-the-job, and formal training programs to become the best manager one can be.

    “You will want to be sure that you have up-to-date skills in the areas of leadership, change management and the technical aspects of your role,” says Shirley Weis, former Chief Administrative Officer for Mayo Clinic, where her work involved overseeing 60,000 employees and $9 billion in revenues. Weis recently published the book Playing to Win in Business, an Amazon bestseller. “Formal training will help you feel more comfortable in your new position and give you the confidence to become an expert in your field.”

    To continue to develop these skills now, and throughout one’s career, focus on cross-training opportunities and finding a mentor, says Nancy Saperstone, Senior HR Business Partner with Insight Performance, recognized as a national industry leader in human resources, providing proven and cost-effective HR solutions.

    “Learn other sides of the business,” says Saperstone. “Don’t just stay in your silo’d responsibilities. The more you can understand the business, where your group fits in and how it impacts the rest of the company, the more you can contribute.”

    As a new manager, you will want to get to know other managers in your organization.  They are now your peers, so set up a time to meet each one individually and get to know about the challenges they are facing as well as ask for advice about how you can learn the new rules of the management game, says Weis.

    Finally, find someone in the business that can be a mentor, says Saperstone. At the same time, be a mentor to someone more junior than you.

    “Not only will you help them grow, but it’s always good to get a different perspective from someone else,” says Saperstone.

    Becoming a manager provides all sorts of new career growth opportunities. Developing skill sets such as these not only will help young professionals now, but as they advance in their career. Take advantage of these opportunities now to reap the rewards later.

    Want more management tips and career advice? Stay connected to College Recruiter by visiting our blog, and connect with us on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and YouTube.

  • How Millennial managers are different

    January 23, 2017 by

     

    Contributing writer Ted Bauer

    When Millennials become managers of others, what can we expect? How do they manage differently?

    We’ve been managing in similar ways for generations now (maybe as far back as 1911), but in the last few years, Millennials have overtaken Baby Boomers as America’s largest generation. Right this second, being younger and all, Millennials aren’t running many companies yet. But they are managing: some research says 62% of global workers have had a Millennial boss at least once. 

    One important distinction here is that oftentimes, Millennials see themselves as leaders even if the job title doesn’t back that up. That was a key finding in a recent report from The Hartford. Here are a few other trends we see in Millennial managers:

    The work-life balance issue: Millennials are known for demanding work-life balance, but when they become managers, they are actually struggling with work-life balanceBeing young, they might feel they have more to prove in a role, and thus feel more pressure or spend more time at work. Other research has backed this up, calling Millennials one of the biggest workaholic generations. If you work for a Millennial who spends 12 hours+ per day at work and you feel the need to match or exceed that, this aspect of Millennial managers could be a con.

    Less command and control. More collaboration: This is a big theme of Millennial managers, with the common logic being that they grew up in more group activities — and thus feel comfortable in that setting. This is a very good thing, as one study has shown command and control management styles are literally taking years off people’s lives.  Continue Reading

  • Rugby championship: A unique college recruitment solution

    January 20, 2017 by

     

    If you think rugby has nothing to do with recruitment, think again. A Rugby championship was the unique solution to a recruitment challenge that Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company encountered. Jessica Choi, Assistant Vice President of Talent Acquisition and Diversity, shared details with College Recruiter.

    What challenges was Penn Mutual facing that prompted the unique solution of sponsoring the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship?

    LIMRA states that the current average age of a financial adviser is 56 years old.1 From an industry perspective, we needed to find a way to connect with recent graduates and college students in order to get in front of the new generation of financial advisers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 300,000 advisers will be retiring over the next 10 years, which means there will be a 27 percent increase in adviser roles in this space.2 This is a tremendous opportunity for the life insurance industry, and connecting with the rugby community has been a great way for us to engage with college campuses and their students, coaches and administration in a different way. The rugby community is so welcoming and enthusiastic and has been a positive recruiting partner for us in this space.

    What does the Collegiate Rugby Championship say about what it’s like to work with Penn Mutual?
    The number one response that we get from the participants of the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship and outside rugby events is, “Thank you.” Because of our true support of the game and through our partnership with United World Sports, we have been able to make an impact on the growth of rugby in the United States. Rugby continues to grow and we are optimistic that we can provide career opportunities for ruggers, whether they are students, new graduates or alumni.

    What changes has the company seen since starting its rugby sponsorship, in terms of hiring trends?

    We have changed from recruiting talent to attracting talent. We now get more phone calls from talent, asking about the organization more than ever before. I believe it’s because we’ve shifted the model in terms of attracting, not recruiting, talent to Penn Mutual.

    In terms of hiring trends, we take on a multi-faceted approach, so we employ other efforts in addition to rugby. Through our omnichannel marketing strategy and increased social media presence, we feel as though anyone who is engaged with us knows that we are growing.

    Why are relationships important at Penn Mutual, and how does the company live that value?

    Focusing on relationships is one of our core values at Penn Mutual. We live and breathe our values every day. My fellow colleagues live their passion and everyone is truly passionate about our purpose to empower our clients to live life with confidence. We’ve all been able to learn about the impact life insurance makes on people’s lives and we utilize different techniques to keep the company moving forward in innovative ways. We truly live the company’s values and feel a sense of belonging at the company.

    What are Penn Mutual’s overall college recruitment strategies?  Continue Reading

  • It’s crucial for managers to learn to communicate across generations

    January 19, 2017 by

     

    The first thing one needs to realize once they move to a management role is this:

    Your job has changed! Drastically.

    Many people happily take on the title of ‘manager’ while assuming that most of what they will do and be responsible for on a day-to-day basis won’t be all that different, says MacKenzie Kyle, a management consultant and author of The Performance Principle: A Practical Guide to Understanding Motivation in the Modern Workplace. Given that there is limited time each day, and that management responsibilities are their own full-time job, this can result in significant personal stress, working excessive hours as the person attempts to do two jobs, and feeling like he or she has to ‘waste’ time on activities like communication and reporting, which doesn’t produce the same immediate and obvious results as ‘production’ work.

    But, as a manager, it is now a big part of your daily job to effectively facilitate the flow of information. So don’t expect that as a manager you’ll get to avoid those regular status meetings or email updates; instead, you’ll be the driving force behind them.

    “You are moving to a role that includes a significant component of communication,” says Kyle.

    And that means communicating with different personalities, styles, and generations. That in itself is another great challenge all new managers must master. Especially for Millennials trying to communicate and report up across generations, specifically with baby boomers.

    In fact, reporting challenges between generations in the workplace are an offshoot of the Grand Communication Canyon between Baby Boomers and Millennials, says Chris Butsch, author of The Millennial’s Guide to Making Happiness, a positive psychology book for young people driven by humor, science, and stories from Millennials around the world. So what’s driving these generations apart? Well, they both want something the other isn’t providing.

    Millennials want feedback.

    “I’m often asked why we seem to need feedback at every turn, and the answer is quite simple: this is the system we’re used to,” says Butsch. “We’re the most educated generation in America’s history; with over 50% of us holding college degrees. That means more than any generation before us, we’ve spent more time in the education system receiving precise feedback on everything. Even in college, which prepares us for work, we received a percentage score on every deliverable: Here’s what you did right, here’s where you screwed up, 89%, B+.”

    But baby boomers are industrious and often bottom-line driven, says Butsch. So if you are a new manager communicating with a baby boomer follow these guidelines from Butsch when managing the flow of communication in the workplace:

    Imagine this scenario: Yesterday morning, your client asked for something you have no experience in. This afternoon the manager who you report to asks this:

    Haven’t heard from XYZ client in a week- how are things going?

    BAD REPORT: Yesterday morning they asked for something I don’t know much about, so I’m kinda stuck. Could you help?

    This response creates more questions and more work – baby boomers – often senior managers in today’s corporate hierarchy, hate this. Instead, impress them by showing how much work you’ve already done, covering the three bases above:

    GOOD REPORT: (1) Things are well and we’re speeding towards go-live by Monday EOD. I’ve completed 5 of the 7 tasks this week. (2) However, they’ve asked for recommendations for ideal CRM software, and (3) while I’ve thoroughly researched the top 4 options (Pipedrive, Salesforce, Insightly, and Zoho), I don’t feel qualified to make a recommendation without experience. Could you connect me with someone who might have experience in this area?

    The latter response tells them things are going well, you’re on schedule, and you specify precisely where you need help.

    The biggest thing to remember when communicating as a manager, whether it’s with direct reports, or to senior leaders is this, says Butsch: Stop treating everyone the same.

    Butsch references a 75-year-long Harvard study that found the No. 1 indicator of life satisfaction is the quality of our relationships. If you build relationships with the people around you, you’re also building trust, likability, and efficiency between you.

    “Building a working relationship doesn’t necessarily mean being buddy-buddy with everyone; it means understanding them,” says Butsch.

    How can new managers understand the many different personalities and work styles across generations in the workplace? Start by making mental baseball cards, says Butsch. Like this:

    Danielle (hospital director)
    Likes: directness, short meetings, short emails
    Hates: getting lost in details, anyone who’s late

    Kyle (scheduling software analyst)
    Likes: positive feedback, 1-1 attention, clear walkthroughs
    Hates: feeling lost, going too long without feedback

    So if communicating with Danielle and Kyle, Butsch would spend an hour walking Kyle through a new workflow, then fire Danielle a 1-sentence email letting her know that the scheduling software is on track.

    As you build these relationships, and start to understand each person’s own unique style – and quirks – you’ll simply enjoy working with more people, and will also build trust with them, meaning you’ll feel more comfortable asking for favors or support in times of need, adds Butsch.

    The reality of the job of manager is often different than expectations, and a large number of people don’t find the activities of being a manager – all the communication, supporting other people to do the actual work while dealing with many of their problems, rewarding, says Kyle. But the manager’s role is to coordinate and support the production work (not to do it) and this requires significant time spent simply communicating with the members of the team. Learning how to communicate successfully with different personalities and across generations is a big factor in one’s success as a manager.

    Are you ready to make that change? Then you’re ready to succeed as a first-time manager.

    Want more management tips and career advice? Stay connected to College Recruiter by visiting our blog, and connect with us on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and YouTube.

  • How a Liberal Arts degree prepares students for managerial success

    January 18, 2017 by

     

    For employers who look exclusively for STEM backgrounds to fill their positions, they are missing out on a wide pool of qualified candidates. Students with a liberal arts degree offer distinct advantages, and employers should not overlook them.

    Technical and engineering skills may fit only the short term

    The technical and engineering skills that get a student hired initially often have an expiration date. Those skills unfortunately may also fall victim to automation. A recent study by Carl Frey and Michael Osboren of Oxford University suggested that 47% of all employment in the U.S. is at risk of being replaced by automation, including many mid-level technical and engineering positions.

    Skills most in need are not technical, but soft

    Even more importantly from a career development perspective, technical skills alone often are insufficient to help employees advance their careers. Almost invariably, career advancement means to take on managerial and planning responsibilities. Those leadership positions require not technical skill but so-called soft skills. Soft skills include critical thinking, being able work in a group, interpersonal communication, leadership, and complex problem solving.  No surprise that according to a recent survey of the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the four most sought after skills of recent graduates are not technical, but critical thinking/problem-solving, work ethic, teamwork, and strong oral and written communication. A recent study conducted by Indeed.com reports that 64% of “opportunity jobs” (those with high and growing wages) require complex problem solving skills.

    Liberal arts programs prepare students for leadership

    It is precisely in these areas where students with a liberal arts education have distinct advantages over their more technically educated peers. Indeed, at the core of a liberal arts education is building skills such as problem-solving, communication, leadership, engaging diversity, and ethical decision making. Liberal arts programs uniquely prepare graduates for leadership and managerial roles in organizations. Liberal arts students are also used to using their skills in various contexts, preparing them to better deal with uncertainty. Given the long-term unpredictability of today’s business climate, this adaptability is critical. Furthermore, liberal arts college are also committed to diversity and uniquely prepare students to learn and interact with students from a wide variety of backgrounds. It is no surprise that liberal arts graduates are disproportionately represented in the c-suites of the nation’s largest and most innovative corporations.

    Liberal arts graduates are life-long learners

    A final strength of liberal arts graduates that is often overlooked by recruiters is their ability to acquire new skills and to engage in life-long learning. Even if liberal arts graduates need more initial training for a position that requires specific technical skills, they have all the attributes that will make them successful in the long run. Not only do they tend to advance more readily in their careers, they also are more likely to stay with their employers and contribute significantly to the long-term success of their organizations.

    Colleges want to help connect liberal arts to careers

    Increasingly, colleges and universities are becoming more aware of how a liberal arts education contributes to career success. They are beginning to engage students and employers in conversations about the distinct advantages of liberal arts degrees. For example, the College of Liberal Arts of the University of Minnesota recently launched a career readiness initiative. The initiative highlights ten core career competencies inherent to the liberal arts. The college offers courses and programs that allow students not only to recognize their unique skills and abilities, but also how they relate to their long term career success.

    Recruiters who want to hire for the long run should pay attention to these developments and to not overlook liberal arts graduates. These young workers are viable candidates for entry-level positions, especially those that are a pipeline for leadership opportunities within their organizations.

    Dr. Ascan Koerner was recently interviewed by ERE Media’s Todd Raphael. They discussed the perception and reality of liberal arts students’ competencies and preparedness for careers. Read about and watch their discussion here!

    Ascan Koerner, professor and director of undergraduate studiesAbout Dr. Ascan Koerner: Ascan is the Director of the Career Readiness Initiative at the University of Minnesota’s College of Liberal Arts. The initiative is part of the Dean’s road map for the college and aims to make CLA graduates the most desirable and best prepared graduates. In addition, Ascan is a professor and director of undergraduate studies. His research interests are family communication and communication in interpersonal relationships.