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Posted May 19, 2016 by

Soft skills in the workplace: IBM offers tips to candidates

When entry-level candidates apply for jobs, they often claim to have great soft skills. However, after employers hire candidates, they may find that candidates don’t have the excellent soft skills they boasted about possessing. This creates a problem for employers in the onboarding process and afterward, too, as they are left to deal with new employees lacking basic soft skills required to adapt to the workplace and corporate culture.

Can the new employees interact well with their teammates? Are they capable of making strong decisions on their own without input from management every step of the way? Do new employees manage their time well, resolve conflicts as they arise, and communicate clearly, effectively, and appropriately with clients and coworkers? If the answer to any of these questions is ‘no,’ employers have big—often expensive–problems on their hands.

Pete Joodi, Distinguished Engineer for IBM, provides entry-level job seekers and employers with insight into why soft skills matter so much in today’s workplace, particularly in the field of information technology. In this interview by Bethany Wallace, Content Manager for College Recruiter, Pete Joodi discusses the soft skills dilemma.


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At IBM, Pete Joodi, Distinguished Engineer, focuses on research and innovation in information technology. He focuses on optimization strategies; his goal is to find ways software and technology can improve energy efficiency, cost containment, and compliance.

Pete mentions that within the last 50 years, the world has truly expanded thanks to technology. We need to know how to work with each other now more than ever. This is the reason soft skills are more important than ever before.

IBM conducted a study in 2014. One of its findings indicated that soft skills are in great demand by employers but are most lacking in students graduating from institutions of higher education today. Pete Joodi doesn’t see this as a negative finding, however. Instead, it indicates an opportunity for growth and improvement for employers.

At IBM, the focus is on leading and contributing to technological innovation in the ‘cognitive era.’ Candidates applying at IBM need the following soft skills in order to succeed: communication skills, teamwork and collaboration skills, problem-solving skills, adaptability and flexibility skills, language and translation skills, ability to interact well with colleagues and clients, critical thinking skills, and conflict resolution skills.

Truly, soft skills are highly relevant at IBM. The world is more complex than it was, but it’s also more rewarding to work in the world today. In order to create consumable products, IBM and other companies must hire candidates with excellent soft skills.

For more details about how to improve your soft skills, transferable skills, and non-verbal skills, visit CollegeRecruiter.com, follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

 

Posted May 06, 2016 by

Working for a startup after college

Startup business people working at modern office courtesy of Shutterstock.com

dotshock/Shutterstock.com

Everyone is nervous heading into their last year of college (except for those going to grad school, that is). It’s time recent graduates prove to themselves, and probably to their parents, that all of this was worth it; they can get entry-level jobs, get out on their own, support themselves, and start on a career path. It is probably their family’s hope that grads will conduct their job search seriously, and look at companies/organizations that promise a bright future. They’ve attended their first job fair, passed out their resumes, spoken with corporate recruiters, and some seemed interested. But something doesn’t “feel” right in their gut. There’s no excitement about all of this.

As recent graduates reflect on why they lack excitement, their minds go to the concept of a “corporate” environment with everyone playing their roles, a pretty large bureaucracy, policies, set work hours; “a single cog in a very large machine you will be,” as Yoda would say. Then there’s the office politics grads studied about in those business courses. Somehow, it doesn’t seem right. They’re thinking about their future success, which doesn’t include what the “big boys” offer. Recent grads need to look elsewhere.

Graduates need to consider working for a startup. Now their parents and some of their friends might think they’re a bit nuts. There’s no job security, as 50% of all startups fail within five years, and then where will they be? Mom may be wringing her hands. However, this isn’t their parents’ world anymore, and there are large advantages to taking this path right now in their lives when they have no obligations other than to themselves.

Flexibility and continuous learning

Most start-ups do not have “pigeon-hole” jobs. They will demand everyone pitch in when and where it is needed. Graduates may have a “job title,” but that will not mean a great deal. They’ll have a skill others may not, but they will be required to learn everyone’s job and everyone will be required to learn some of their job. This environment means continuous learning.

What’s the other great thing? Grads will be forced out of their “comfort zone” into exciting challenges; things can change on a dime, and they will need to change with them. If graduates really enjoy risks and challenges, they’ll love it.

Discover new talents

With all of the emphasis on pitching in, group decision-making, and problem-solving, recent grads may find they have creative talents and current skills they never knew or nurtured. They will be far more well-rounded in what they know and what they can do.

Learn how to budget

Pay is generally not the best for those who join startups. In fact, no one joins a startup for the salary. Graduates will often have to continue living like poor students, but they know how to do it. They’ll stretch those dollars, shop at thrift stores, and eat Ramen noodles sometimes. So what? Grads will also learn how to budget and be frugal.

Business people cheering with arms raised courtesy of Shutterstock.com

pikselstock/Shutterstock.com

Work with passionate people

Enthusiasm is contagious, and that is one of the great things about startups. Everyone comes to work excited about the day and their projects. Everyone shares in each other’s successes (and pumps each other up when there are failures). Grads, too, will be excited about getting up every morning and getting to work; many people in the corporate world would love to have that feeling.

Learn entrepreneurship

Forecasters predict small businesses will be more a wave of the future than large corporations. Why? First, corporations continue to expand globally and set up headquarters in other countries. Second, people no longer trust large corporations like they used to. These giants have taken big tumbles in recent years and no longer provide job security to their employees. It is the small business that is trending now. Working for a startup gives employees valuable experience in becoming small business owners at some point, if they should choose to head in that direction.

Push through failure

Most startups have their failures. The good ones with resilient employees move forward, learning from the failure but never losing the enthusiasm for what they are doing. It’s good to experience failure when young; it is a wonderful teacher. If that startup goes “belly up,” think of all the lessons employees have learned in the meantime.

Potentially invest or be given a stake

A lot of startups value their original people, and founders will give those people a stake in the company. Many people became millionaires because they started out with Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, or Mark Zuckerberg. Having a stake in a company at a young age is a great thing.

Love the Culture

Flexible hours are a big plus. Value is not based upon the number of hours worked. It is based on what employees produce. They may work several 18 hour-long days, only to sleep in late for several days after that and only put in four hours or so.

Dress is a big factor for many job seekers. If they love a jeans and flip-flop environment, taking their dogs to work, letting their hair grow, or sporting a tattoo, they will find the startup environment is where they want to be.

Choosing the right startup

Startups come in all different stages of development. Choosing one should be based on job seekers’ level of risk tolerance, their investigation of the founder(s), and their passions for the product(s) or services being developed. Nothing is carved in stone; if one idea doesn’t work out, there are many others to try.

Need career advice as a recent graduate? Go to our blog and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.

Rick Riddle, guest writer

Rick Riddle, guest writer

Rick Riddle is passionate about the self-development process and wants to share his experience with more people via his articles. He believes self-sufficiency and discipline lead to great results. Follow him on Twitter.

Posted February 29, 2016 by

10 reasons to reject job offers

Woman tears agreement documents before an agent who wants to get a signature courtesy of Shutterstock.com

Bacho/Shutterstock.com

Deciding whether or not to accept job offers could be challenging for college students and recent graduates. When considering a position, there are certain factors that might lead students and grads to turn it down. Here are 10 good reasons to reject job offers.

1. Job seekers should reject job offers if they don’t line-up with their competencies, interests, and values. College students and recent graduates should ask themselves whether they’re good at what they’ll be expected to do if hired, if the work will excite them, and if the work is consistent with their morals. If not, pass on the offer. A job needs to be more than a paycheck.

2. The job doesn’t offer career advancement. Can employees grow within the company? If job offers do not mention anything about advancement, workers will be stuck in a job without the chance for a potential career.

3. Opportunities are sacrificed. Depending on the job, college students and recent graduates may or may not meet a people who have the right contacts. Without networking opportunities, they might miss out on their dream jobs.

4. Reputation is damaged professionally. There is no shame in working somewhere to make ends meet, even if it’s not the job you want. However, a bad work experience can damage one’s reputation with recruiters and hiring managers. Students and grads should find jobs highlighting their skills en route to better career opportunities.

5. The job affects your spirit negatively. College students and graduates need to think about how they would feel in the job. If it does not satisfy them for whatever reason, they will be unhappy and won’t perform well. This creates a negative spirit in people and in the workplace.

Balancing work and life, and busy businessman in concept courtesy of Shutterstock.com

Crystal Eye Studio/Shutterstock.com

6. Hurts work/life balance. Work is important, but family is more important. If a new job will take too much time away from your loved ones, consider other options offering more flexibility for work/life balance.

7. Salary falls short. Students and grads should do their homework on how much money a job pays, and then compare the salary to the job offer. If the money isn’t what they’re quite hoping for and they believe they can get more, they shouldn’t accept the offer.

8. Money overtakes dreams. In contrast to the previous reason, the pay can be so good and becomes a bigger priority than pursuing your dreams. If students and graduates are tempted by money more than their dreams, they may regret accepting a new job later in life and wonder what could have been.

9. The hiring process isn’t structured. College students and recent grads should consider how they’re treated during the hiring process. Anything that seems questionable is a red flag and is not worth their time.

10. Bad timing. Even when great job offers come along, sometimes the timing isn’t right. While rejecting offers may seem crazy, don’t beat yourself up. A better offer could be waiting down the road.

Need more tips related to your job search? Follow our blog and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube for career tips and motivation.

At College Recruiter, we believe every student and recent grad deserves a great career. We work to create a quality candidate and recruiter experience. Our interactive media solutions connect students and grads to great careers.

Posted February 24, 2016 by

Senior year job search: A timeline

Robyn Scott, guest writer

Robyn Scott, guest writer

All of a sudden students are part way through their senior year of college, and employment (or unemployment) is just a few short months away. Students who wait to look for jobs until college is over will generally find they are unemployed or working at a part-time job they don’t like for the entire summer.

Of course, lucky students will have secured positions by the fall, but many will need to search for much longer than that. No two students will have the exact same experience. Employment opportunities vary depending on the field, time of year, and flexibility of the job seeker. Recent graduates who are willing to relocate or consider full-time internships, for example, may have more opportunities than people looking for full-time paid employment in their current city only. To avoid post grad unemployment, it’s good for students to start their job search while they are still in college.

1) First semester senior year

During the first semester of senior year, students are not likely to receive a full-time job offer. Although there are a few high demand fields, most students will be doing preliminary research at this point. Students are encouraged to begin networking with people in their chosen career fields if they haven’t already done so. They can also start investigating which companies hire new graduates and find out if recruiters will be on campus during the year. Additionally, the first semester is a good time to meet with professors or professionals within the field to get information about possible opportunities in the future. Although most companies are not going to give an official interview at this point, they may offer an informational interview. A familiar face is more likely to be hired later on.

2) Beginning of second semester senior year

Once students get to their second semester of their senior year, they can start legitimately looking for jobs. Many companies hiring new graduates will begin their recruitment process at this point knowing their employees can’t start until the beginning of summer. One of the most challenging issues for students at this point is finding a balance between school and the job search. It’s important students devote their full attention to study the week before midterms and finals but still manage to send out applications and meet with recruiters.

Woman filling out application during job search courtesy of Shutterstock.com

pixelheadphoto/Shutterstock.com

3) End of second semester senior year

By the end of the second semester, it’s important students are sending out completed job applications on a regular basis. There is not a magic number but one to two applications per week will serve as a good, minimum goal. In addition to applying for jobs the traditional way, students should be actively networking and refining their resumes. Also, it’s important to tailor each cover letter to a specific position. The human resources department can easily tell who made the effort to read the entire job description and who wrote a standard letter.

4) The summer after graduation

The majority of college seniors will not have secured full-time employment by their graduation date. However, this is when it’s important to stay motivated and get creative. In addition to continuing a full-time job search in a specific field, recent grads should look at viable part-time positions, paid internships, and transition jobs that can help them build their resumes. There are several companies that won’t hire somebody until they have a couple years of experience, so that dream job may be just around the corner. In order to beef up their resumes, recent grads can be creative and have two part-time jobs or look into the possibility of something near their field, if not directly in it.

Looking for more advice on the job search? Go to College Recruiter’s blog and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Twitter.

Robyn Scott, a guest writer for College Recruiter, is a private tutor with TutorNerds LLC. She has a BA from the University of California, Irvine, and a MA from the University of Southampton, UK.

Posted December 30, 2015 by

Is micro-learning the future of e-learning?

hasibuddin ahmed

Hasibuddin Ahmed

Micro-learning is an innovative method to make e-learning more effective and is more cost-effective when compared to other forms of e-learning. According to experts in the industry, this type of learning is going to gain in popularity in the days to come.

Julie Clow, the Erstwhile Manager of Learning and Organizational Development at Google, defines micro-learning as “discrete chunks of information or skill-based knowledge that can be delivered in short bursts of time.” With the help of micro-learning, the cognitive load on students is reduced, and achieving more focused learning is a possibility. The traditional methods of e-learning are more comprehensive, where a topic is delivered to students completely and the course would run through the pre-determined duration. In such situations, students don’t have much control of the course, but in micro-learning, they can control the amount of information received and request it according to their needs. (more…)

Posted August 28, 2015 by

Why Working from Home is Good for Employees and Employers

Adaptability and flexibility are two primary requirements for the majority of roles today. The ability to change job location and hours of work can be a condition of employment in most contracts. In recent years, many corporations have started to implement telecommuting strategies, whereby employees work from home or in remote locations. Incredibly, 36% of workers would choose the option of working from home ahead of a pay rise, while 46% of companies that have introduced telework state that it has reduced attrition. (more…)

Posted August 07, 2015 by

Four reasons to enjoy your college days

group of university students outdoors looking happy

Group of university students outdoors looking happy. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

If you remember your last few school days or months, you would realize how college excited you and also developed a sense and anxiety within you. The fear of changing your life, having to become more responsible, learning more advanced courses and preparing for professional life all contribute to your growing anxiety before you go to college.

However, the moment you step on to the journey of your college as a freshman, you would realize that there is much beyond the general fear and anxiety levels. College is a journey which is like a transition period from the school and university. It acts as a bridge at an age where students are the most vulnerable and are during their teenage part of life. College teaches much more than mere education, it helps students find their feet in this world and learn to fight or combat various challenges and prepares themselves for even tougher life to come. Every student has their own perceptions and reasons to love college and enjoy the college days. However, in general, there are some common elements that can be taken into account when it comes to determining why you should love your college and enjoy the college days. Today’s guest post is exactly going to talk about those four reasons in the next sections of this article. (more…)

Posted August 06, 2015 by

The Millennial Makeover Part 7: Employers, Know Your Role

portrait of happy boss looking at camera in working environment

Portrait of happy boss looking at camera in working environment. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

When it comes to today’s workforce, there is no doubt that millennials are creating an atmosphere of change in the workplace.  So, who are millennials?  This group was born between 1980 and the year 2000, and reflect a generation with their own career goals, attitudes, and oh yes, their understanding of how to use technology.  For employers to take their companies to the next level, they will need to find ways to recruit and retain millennials, also known as Generation Y. (more…)

Posted July 31, 2015 by

Staying Productive While Working from Home

Sarah Landrum photo

Sarah Landrum

Working from home is an excellent opportunity. It allows you the flexibility and freedom to create your own schedule, the ability to work when it suits you and provides a level of comfort that can be hard to find elsewhere.

It’s also not a walk in the park. Ask anyone who works from home, or who has worked from home at some point in their professional career, and they’ll echo a similar statement: working from home is great, but finding the motivation to be productive and to avoid distractions can be a challenge.

Looking to branch out and try something new? Want to give working from home a chance? That’s great. Follow the tips below for staying productive while working from home. (more…)

Posted July 31, 2015 by

5 Advantages of attending Career College

Illustration depicting a green roadsign with a training courses concept. Blue sky background.

Illustration depicting a green roadsign with a training courses concept. Blue sky background. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

There are various educational choices that we make throughout our life. With many options available to graduating seniors this year, there is no dearth of opportunities for them. Traditional colleges are becoming less and less ‘perfect’ for students. This includes both traditional 4 year colleges and community colleges. It takes simply too long to graduate from these traditional colleges and students end up with an outdated curriculum most of the time. Admissions aren’t easy either, with large waitlists for the flagship programs at top colleges, life becomes hell for graduating seniors in their pursuit of a good college to build their career in. These reasons make it extremely necessary to search for alternative sources of education. (more…)