Top 4 Skills Employers Want and Recent Grads Lack

Dan Elias Bliss


In today’s competitive job market, a college degree will teach you a lot of things, though most likely not all the skills you need to succeed in the workplace. With almost half of all 25 to 29 year olds having a bachelor’s degree, a college education is becoming the new normal. But even with an education, there are still skills employers say nearly all recent graduates lack.

1. Writing Skills

2. Verbal Skills

3. Critical Thinking 

4. Real-world Experience 

Many of these soft skills can’t be taught inside a classroom and don’t come with a degree.

Writing skills

Writing Skills in Spanish

Being able to write effectively is a must no matter what career field you are going into. Not all employers are looking for the next great American writer; they don’t need the millennial version of Hemingway or Twain. However, they need someone who can write more than a text message, Facebook status, or a tweet -they need someone who sounds professional in everyday writing.

Most students can go through college writing a few papers, but never really develop an understanding of the fundamentals of writing. Learning to write doesn’t mean you need to switch your major to English, what it does mean is you need to learn to write outside of the classroom; an internship is the perfect place to improve your writing skills.

The single best way to improve your writing is to experience writing in a professional work environment. Text message language will make you seem unprofessional and poor grammar will make it look as if you don’t care. With an internship, you’ll see the proper way to write an email, the wording which is used in various professional documents, and how coworkers communicate with one another.

Verbal skills

Being able to talk to someone may sound like a simple task, but employers find recent grads struggle to communicate effectively. Employers aren’t talking about just giving a public speaking or giving a presentation. They are seeing recent grads struggle to communicate in even the most basic professional settings.

With digital communication becoming the new normal outside of work, it should be no surprise grads lack the skills to communicate in traditional ways. Most grads are used to a laid-back, and informal way of communicating which turns employers off and sounds unprofessional.

Having a firm handshake, looking someone in the eyes when speaking, and a proper introduction may all seem like small skills that would not affect job performance, but employers see these as a major reflection on who you are. Strong interpersonal and the ability to make a good first impression can go a long way. Being able to have these skills shows employers you can be trusted and is a sign of mutual respect.

Similar to learning to write, learning other soft skills in the workplace, and act in the office comes from experience. Interacting with coworkers from diverse backgrounds and different generations teaches you the way you are meant to act and speak in a professional environment.

Critical thinking

Barcelona Interns Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is not a focus of most majors and degrees, they usually rely on memorizing facts not solving problems. Instead of thinking through ideas and problems in different ways, we are focused on getting the answer right the first time around. Scantrons don’t have two correct answers or a way to explain a conclusion; most papers you get one attempt at writing and before you know it you are moving onto the next assignment.

There are very few career fields where problems have one solution or answers can be found deep inside a textbook. For a business to thrive, it needs employees who can think through problems and come up with more than just one solution.

However, employers aren’t looking for employees who are know-it-alls or taking uneducated guesses about what to do next. Employers want recent grads who can come with multiple solutions instead of passing the problem off to someone else.

The only way to learn how to think critically is to be put in situations where you can apply these skills. Working and living abroad requires you to think critically nearly every day. You will be pushed out of your comfort zone and learn how to adapt to your new lifestyle aboard.

You will also be working in an internship not focused on coffee runs or administrative tasks. A majority of what you will be doing is hands-on career experience. You will have responsibilities and work on projects which require you to think through significant issues and solve problems.

Real-world experience

Gaining Real World Experience in Barcelona

Recruiters aiming to hire recent graduates understand they are not going to find prospects with decades of experience. However, the most attractive candidates are going to be the ones with real-world experience. A high GPA is impressive and may be one of the reasons you land an interview, but it does not show the experience necessary for even entry-level jobs.

A college schedule is relatively straightforward and stays the same most of the semester. Besides the occasional pop-quiz, you know what is expected of you week-to-week. But the professional world and a full-time jobs don’t work that way. Day-to-day new tasks will come up, and things can change in an instant.

An internship is the definition of real-world experience. With an international internship, you will have an unforgettable experience and be able to put something on your resume that will catch the eye of future employers. Having international work experience will set you apart from your peers.

While a lot of students study abroad, only 1% international work experience. An international internship shows employers you have the skills they are looking for, and help you find your dream career faster.

 An internship abroad will teach you the skills employers are looking for in recent graduates. Pair your degree with an international internship and have the foundation for a great career. Apply today, and a member of the Global Experiences Admissions team will contact you shortly.

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