March 20, 2017 by Anna Peters
There is a public perception that liberal arts graduates are somehow less valuable. Dr. Ascan Koerner with the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota will tell you why the opposite is true. College Recruiter connected Dr. Koerner with Todd Raphael of ERE Media to learn what his team is doing to make sure employers understand the relevancy of liberal arts students and graduates. A video of Todd Raphael’s and Dr. Koerner’s discussion is below.
According to Dr. Koerner, we have seen more public discussion in the last 5-10 years about the value of higher education, generally speaking. The arguments for what is valuable have primarily focused on STEM education. (That is, science, technology, engineering and math.) Some believe that in order to be competitive in an international job market, one really has to be focused on STEM. At one end of the spectrum, we see the Governor of Kentucky, who has questioned why universities even have liberal arts programs at all. This makes liberal arts students—and their parents—nervous. Dr. Koerner says that at the University of Minnesota, students are asking how liberal is helpful in their careers. He says their belief in the value of liberal arts has never wavered, “but the question hasn’t been posed to us in such stark terms.”
Employers already value liberal arts, but they don’t realize it
Overall, employers already know the value of liberal arts. The problem is, they don’t recognize it as liberal arts. When you ask employers, for example, what they value, they cite competencies that are quintessential typical liberal arts. At the top of their lists are analytical/critical thinking, communication, leadership, ethnical decision making, and engaging diversity.” Employers know what they value, but the job candidates—the liberal arts students—aren’t always good at explaining their own value. So while colleges and universities bear some of the burden of convincing employers, students bear most of that responsibility. A philosophy major may embody the exact skills needed but when you ask him how his education prepared him for a career in corporate America, he has a hard time. That is why it is so important to engage and prepare students for answering those questions. When the students eloquently explain their own competencies, that is more convincing to an employer than if the institution were to explain the overall value of liberal arts grads. Continue Reading
January 31, 2017 by Matt Krumrie
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:
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
January 27, 2017 by Anna Peters
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
January 26, 2017 by Matt Krumrie
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.
December 29, 2016 by Matt Krumrie
No matter where one is at in their career, there are always things one can do to learn more, become more valuable, advance in their career, and become a go-to employer that people rely on.
While you may not be where you want to be in your career now, it doesn’t mean you can’t get there in the future. One thing recent college graduates quickly find out is that, even though they finally secured that first job, there is still much work to be done to continue to advance in one’s career and climb the career ladder.
So, what can you do in the next year to advance your career? Start by taking small steps that can lead to big improvements and changes. Do that by following these 10 things recent college grads should do to climb the career ladder in 2017:
- Find/consult with a mentor: Everyone could use a mentor – someone who can motivate, inspire and guide them in the early stages of their career. Find someone in your field, career path, or network who can be a mentor to you. Start by asking for an informational interview to learn more about their career. Then if you feel things are going in the right direction, explain your career goals and aspirations and ask if they would be interested in being a mentor. Many people would be flattered, and willing to help.
- Take a class: Even though you recently graduated from college, lifelong learning is essential to those who want to advance in their career. Take a class on Udemy or Coursera. Sign up for Lynda.com. Take an adult education class on a topic of interest, or register for a class – traditional or online – at a local college or university. Learning is lifelong, and getting in the habit of adding new skills throughout one’s career will pay off over time – in salary, and advancement opportunities.
- Do a social media audit: What does your online brand say about you? Google yourself – the next employer certainly will – what shows up? Review your social media profiles (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, others) and check security settings and profiles and be sure they best represent you to an external audience. Seriously review comments, Tweets or photos and remove/edit anything that could hurt your professional reputation. For example, were you outspoken during the 2016 Presidential election, and perhaps commented, through Facebook, or on Twitter, about the Presidential race, Hillary Clinton, or Donald Trump? Those comments “live” in search engines, and others can find them. Don’t let social media comments, posts, pictures or shares damage your online brand.
- Consult with your campus career center: These people are here to help. Even after you graduate. Reach out to a campus career counselor for help with connecting to alumni, for job search assistance and resume writing guidance. Many people never take advantage of this opportunity. Why not reach out to a trained professional who can help?
- Complete a skills audit: Even if you aren’t looking for a job, search for jobs or job titles that may be of interest to you. What skills or requirements do these job applications ask for? Is there a skill (technology) or requirement lacking in your portfolio? In the year ahead, focus on how to develop or improve that skill, to become more attractive to an employer. Try and take on new projects at your current job, or find classes or training to help learn these important industry skills.
- Be a team player: You’re not going to be best friends with every co-worker. You’re not going to like every project or assignment. You may even sense conflict with other departments. But don’t mope, be difficult, or develop a bad attitude because of it. Why? Because someday that co-worker, manager, or person who seemed to be difficult on a project could work for a company where you want to work. What will they remember? Your negative attitude – if you let it. Be a team player at work, someone people go to for answers on projects, for assistance, and someone people can count on. Your co-workers will remember that, and will remember you if they are in a position to influence or assist you with your next job or step of your career.
- Update your resume: If that dream job opened up tomorrow would your resume be updated and ready for you to apply for the job? If that new networking contact asked for a resume to share with other industry contacts, would you be ready? Don’t delay. Updating your resume before you absolutely need it allows one to devote the time, attention and detail to perfect your resume. Even if you are completely happy in your career, updating one’s resume is a good way to help track new achievements and add any new skills to your resume. Better yet, updating a resume twice a year is ideal. At the end of each month write down your key successes and achievements, and at the six month mark, compile those accomplishments and update the resume. Then do it again at the end of year to make sure all is current and best represents the successes you have achieved at your job. If you don’t track it, you will forget it, and it won’t go on your resume, and your next employer will never know you did it.
- Attend an industry networking event: Attending networking events, or joining professional associations can open many doors. Make it a goal this year to attend at least one networking event or industry association event in your field in 2017. Why? Because networking always has been and always will be the key to climbing the career ladder.
- Create a backup plan: If you were fired or lost your job today, would you be ready tomorrow, both personally and professionally, for the challenge ahead? Figure out a way to save more money (perhaps through a part-time job?), be sure your resume is updated, and you would know what to do next, if suddenly without a job now.
- Be thankful: If you are employed, be thankful, even if you dislike the job, your manager, or career direction. Your current job, job title or situation doesn’t define you, or where you want to go. Keep adding new skills, taking on new projects, and learning. Because, the good news is, where you are now doesn’t mean it’s where you will be in six months, one year, three years and the rest of your career. Make 2017 a success by following the above tips and stay connected with College Recruiter to get job alerts, get career advice, and stay on top of trends and issues affecting both job seekers and employers.
Follow these tips in 2017, and you could make great strides in your career development that will continue to have a positive effect not only next year, but in 2018, 2019 and throughout your career. Start now to succeed later.
December 20, 2016 by Matt Krumrie
Many recent college grads head into the job search just hoping to land that first job to start their career. Others graduate from college with a clear goal in mind: To become a corporate leader, company president, CEO, or major industry influencer.
If the latter fits your career aspirations, and you are a female seeking to climb the corporate ladder to career success, then follow the lead from Melissa Greenwell, author of Money On The Table: How to Increase Profits Through Gender-Balanced Leadership (Greenleaf Book Group, January 2017). Greenwell is Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of national retailer The Finish Line, Inc., and a certified executive coach who helps women and men understand how they can leverage natural strengths to identify and make behavioral changes that help them succeed as senior leaders.
Greenwell’s book, Money on the Table, includes several stories from women who didn’t follow a corporate path and leveraged their passion and leadership skills to build their own businesses.
“When you are someone that others follow or look to for help, you will stand out from the crowd,” says Greenwell. “You won’t need to push your way through.”
To get started on the path to career success, and to become an influential female leader, follow these tips and advice from Greenwell:
1. Be the best team player one can be: The first thing a recent grad should do, beyond mastering their subject matter, is to learn how to be the best team player they can be. Help others, volunteer for assignments, and make the extra effort to move projects or initiatives forward that will enable the organization to be successful. “When leaders see you working for the good of the organization, they will notice,” says Greenwell. “This is the behavior they want to see in their future leaders.” Pay close attention to the best leaders in the organization. Ask one to mentor you. Make it known that you want to earn a position in leadership. Continue Reading
December 06, 2016 by Matt Krumrie
References – job seekers submitting them – and employers checking them – seems like a simple process. Unfortunately for the recent college grad embarking on that first or second job, the reference checking process is anything but simple, and clear.
Why? Because just because a job seeker submits a list of references, it doesn’t mean those are the references employers will contact. In fact, the days of providing three references to employers and expecting those to be the only sources employers check with are long gone, says Chris Dardis, VP of HR Search and Consulting for Versique, a Minneapolis-based search firm. Many employers may not even check the references job seekers submit, and it’s perfectly legal, because a prospective employer does not require permission to check any references. Employers are also relying on new tools and tactics to research potential candidates’ backgrounds.
“Social media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are the first place hiring managers tend to explore candidate information,” says Dardis. “Whether you think it’s right or wrong, potential candidates need to be aware of the brand they are displaying on the Internet.”
“Don’t assume that employers will only check with human resources or your former supervisor for reference purposes,” says Shane. “Employers are increasingly scrutinizing less-traditional references such as peers and co-workers.”
Employers also use tools like Checkster, to conduct the legwork on reference check gathering, says Dardis. Checkster is a tool that provides hiring managers with quantifiable data on the hire-ability of the potential candidate. Employers also use their own network and conduct what is known as “backdoor reference checks.” Hiring managers learn about the candidate’s previous employers, identify where they have connections and call around within their network to simply inquire about their reputation – all of this being done without the candidates knowledge.
“These days, it doesn’t necessarily matter what your official references are saying,” says Dardis. “What matters is the kind of reputation you are leaving in the marketplace.”
So how can recent college grads be sure they are providing references the right way, and that backdoor reference checks won’t hurt them? Follow these tips from Lynne Martin, Executive Director of San Francisco-based Students Rising Above, an award-winning nonprofit that helps low-income, first-generation students get into – and more importantly graduate – college The organization also offers their free, online College2Careers Hub which offers personalized assistance via online advisors that provide real-time answers and support on such themes as reference advice.
November 29, 2016 by Matt Krumrie
Google. Microsoft. Deloitte. PwC. Cisco. Domino’s Pizza. Marriott International.
Those are just some of the employers using gamification in recruiting. What is gamification?
According to recruiterbox.com, Gamification is the concept which uses game theory, mechanics and game designs to digitally engage and motivate people to achieve their goals. According to this Society of Human Resources Management article, “Recruiting experts say gamification can stir people’s interest in job openings, project an innovative image of an employer, and deliver accurate previews of applicants’ future job performance.”
John Findlay, co-founder of Launchfire, a digital engagement shop that turns boring content and mandatory training materials into a fun, easy-to-digest, game-based learning experience, agrees. Recent college grads are a tech-focused generation and the use of mobile, video, virtual reality and gamification go a long way in recruiting and assessing recent college grads and entry-level job seekers, he says.
“Today’s employers face the challenge of recruiting and hiring recent college grads and Millennials, the largest generational demographic in the American workforce,” said Findlay. “Many companies are finding that using game-based learning and gamification, which integrate points, badges, competition and role-playing, can be used to effectively attract and assess candidates.”
“It was all the rage, especially in the IT industry, where technical skills change fast and traditional resumes don’t always tell the depth of job seekers skills,” says Kirk.
Gamification is commonly used in IT. Want to recruit a top coder? Run a competition to find them, says Kirk. But it’s also being used in many other industries, like hospitality. Marriott International created a recruiting game to attract Millennials called My Marriott Hotel. This game was delivered through Facebook, and according to the SHRM, allows candidates to experience what it’s like to manage a hotel restaurant kitchen before moving on to other areas of hotel operations. Players create their own virtual restaurant, where they buy equipment and ingredients on a budget, hire and train employees, and serve guests. Participants earn points for happy customers and lose points for poor service. They also are rewarded when their operation turns a profit. Continue Reading
November 22, 2016 by Matt Krumrie
With technology careers in high demand, coding bootcamps have become a popular method for recent college grads to gain the additional skills needed to jump start, advance, and succeed in a career in technology. Coding bootcamps are short – but intense – training opportunities focusing on teaching students the latest, in-demand technical skills.
Revature is a technology talent development company providing a turn-key talent acquisition solution for corporate and government partners and no-cost coding bootcamps for university graduates. Revature recently announced several strategic partnerships to provide free on-campus coding bootcamps with the City University of New York (CUNY), Arizona State University, Davidson College and the University of Missouri – with more partnership announcements planned into 2017. A college degree is required at the time of attendance for the on-site bootcamps. Students are typically graduates or even graduating seniors who are ready to deepen their skills and have a job when they graduate. The coding bootcamp is typically 12 weeks, full-time.
“Revature is training the next generation of software engineers, a profession that continuously needs people current – and even ahead – of the technology curve,” says Joe Vacca, CMO at Revature. “We started these university partnerships to create a pathway to high-paying coding careers for graduates across the country.”
According to a recent report, 73% of coding bootcamp graduates surveyed report being employed in a full-time job requiring the skills learned at bootcamp, with an average salary increase of 64%. Roughly half of the jobs in the top income quartile — defined as those paying $57,000 or more per year — are in occupations that commonly require applicants to have at least some computer coding knowledge or skill. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, software development careers are projected to grow 17% through 2024.
November 15, 2016 by Matt Krumrie
Fluency or competency in a foreign language is a coveted skill that employers value. That’s no surprise in today’s global economy. However, the reasons employers value recent college grads who have foreign language skills may be a surprise. Yes, it’s a must for certain positions where employers work directly with others who speak foreign languages to conduct business. But that’s not the only reason.
“I have hired people who were not as well-qualified as other candidates because they knew another language, even if that language was not specifically needed in my organization,” says B. Max Dubroff, an HR Consultant at Einfluss, LLC, an HR advisory firm, in Albuquerque, NM.
Why? Because learning a foreign language demonstrates initiative and passion for self-improvement. And if one can learn a foreign language, they can surely learn an organization’s language, which for many workplaces, is full of slang, acronyms, and alternate definitions, says Dubroff.
“Throughout my career, language has helped me make and strengthen relationships,” says Dubroff, who is conversant in German and learning Spanish. Dubroff retired from the U.S. Air Force, having specialized in security, law enforcement, and anti-terrorism. He is the former Chairman of a non-profit board and a former Commissioner. His education includes a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Master’s in Human Resources and he has earned senior-level certifications in Human Resources from HRCI and SHRM.
“I have never had a job where language was required, but I have always had everyday events that benefited from this understanding,” says Dubroff. “I was twice selected for awesome opportunities in the Air Force and my understanding of German was a factor in me being chosen over other very well-qualified people.”
Mastery of a foreign language can also be an indicator of leadership capability and style, adds Dubroff. “In many ways, language is the study of interactions; if you value language, you are also more likely to value other people,” says Dubroff.
Recent college grads with foreign language skills often stand out among peers with similar skill sets, experiences, and degrees. While it may not be listed in a job ad, the value of fluency in foreign languages can be a “signal” factor for a candidate as they are compared to others with similar experience and college preparation, says Bettyjo Bouchey, an Associate Professor and Program Director of Undergraduate Business Programs at National Louis University in Chicago, IL.
“If there is a direct need for a company, foreign language skills could be the deciding factor in a screening process,” says Bouchey. “Without a direct need, however, it is a signal to a future employer that this candidate has an interest and sensitivity to multicultural issues and is interested in developing themselves outside of their primary vocational aspiration. It is a signal of a well-rounded prospective employee; someone that is interesting.”
Bouchey, who is also a career coach, advises students and recent college grads to highlight these types of signals in their cover letters and on a resume understanding this foreign language skill, or signal, can set them apart from those that do not possess them.
“As someone who has recruited and hired hundreds of employees over the years and also one who researches employer selection processes, signals vary by recruiter, but this is one that catches someone’s eye and sometimes that is all you need to get your foot in the door,” says Bouchey.
Auburn University’s Department of Foreign Languages and Literature lists Twenty-five Reasons to Study Foreign Languages. Among them is this fact: Four out of five new jobs in the US are created as a result of foreign trade. This list includes these additional traits that are attractive to employers:
- Foreign Language study creates more positive attitudes and less prejudice toward people who are different.
- Analytical skills improve when students study a foreign language.
- Business skills plus foreign language skills make an employee more valuable in the marketplace.
- Your marketable skills in the global economy are improved if you master another language.
- Foreign language study enhances one’s opportunities in government, business, medicine, law, technology, military, industry, marketing, etc.
According to the OfficeTeam 2017 Salary Guide, professionals can earn up to 12 percent more for U.S. administrative jobs if they have expert multilingual abilities. Spanish is typically the most requested language, but fluency in others can be requested depending on location.
“Bilingual or multilingual skills are a plus in many industries, especially for public- and customer-facing positions,” says Brandi Britton, district president of OfficeTeam.
As organizations become more global, language ability is crucial to recent college grads seeking to advance in their career. Since organizations can’t foresee every project or program, they usually track employees’ language ability so they have people to choose from, if needed. This opportunity could open doors for an unforeseen opportunity. For example, company X is considering a potential partnership with a firm in France, so they consider employees who know French to add to the core team of experts, says Dubroff. Another recognized benefit in the global economy is the heightened awareness and understanding of culture that accompanies language ability. This can be a key differentiator for a company to stand out among its competition (marketing, sales, and service).
“The reason I respect my favorite IT Director so much is not just because of his understanding of technology; rather, it is more because of his deep understanding of people and culture, which comes from mastery of three languages,” says Dubroff.
But if you have fluency or basic knowledge of a language, be prepared to prove it. That person conducting an interview may speak the same language and test job seekers during an interview.
“If you say you know a language, I will test you,” says Dubroff. “If I don’t know the language, I will find another employee for you to talk with. If you say you are studying a language, I will seek details. I will ask how you are studying it and what you are doing to master it.”
Dubroff has interviewed several people who claimed to be fluent in German, so he suddenly changed from speaking English to German. “This not only helps me understand the level of their language ability, it also helps me learn how the person responds to unexpected change in a moderately stressful situation,” says Dubroff.
How should recent college grads list and reference language skills on a resume, cover letter, job application and/or during an interview? Don’t just list a language, list a way understanding this foreign language has helped develop a skill set or solve a business problem. Think: What did I gain from that language experience that in general is going to make me a better worker? Show that in your application material. On a resume, language skills fit well in the list of key skills. It is best to describe the level of capability without overstating it. A person who says they are “fluent” but has never used it outside the classroom loses credibility, says Dubroff.
Good descriptors include “native” and “bilingual” at the high end, “professional working proficiency” or “conversant” in the middle, and “elementary” or “novice” for beginners.
Employers value foreign language skills. Recent college grads should be sure to use that to their advantage when applying for internships and jobs.
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