School is an important instrument that helps propel students into the workplace. It teaches you the basics of your field and how to navigate the “real-world.”
Or at least, that’s what you were told.
Most students think that once they’re finished their four-year-degree, the education stops. They’re done with learning and all the expensive textbooks that come with it. However, if you’re one of those students who can’t wait to graduate and be done with the overload of knowledge you’re confronted with on a daily basis, you might want to think twice.
If you take matters into your own hands and continue to fuel that brain, you’ll gain an advantage not only in the job market, but in the workplace as well. Here’s why.
Methods Are Always Changing
Would you want to get surgery done by somebody using methods from thirty years ago? You might be okay, but given the choice, you’d want the latest and greatest— preferably something with lasers. Employers feel the same way (minus the lasers, probably) when it comes to finding the right person for the job.
School is going to teach you the current trends, attitudes and techniques of the workplace, but that doesn’t mean that they’re static. The workplace is always adapting and changing.
You need to keep up-to-date with everything that evolves in your field or you’re going to be stuck in the past and left in the dust. 91% of HR directors think that by 2018, people will be hired on the basis of how well they can deal with change. You’re going to become more and more successful if you continue to learn about your own work, and grow with it.
There Are Missing Pieces To Your Puzzle
The fact is, school is not going to teach you everything that you need to know, or everything that is often required from you once you graduate.
For example, at this point in my Professional Communication degree, we are required to start getting acquainted with our field by looking at relevant job postings, building a portfolio and securing an internship. Looking at job postings was an eye-opener.
A lot of jobs in my field have requirements such as proficiency in verbal and written communication (the obvious stuff), but also editing skills. However, in my program, we’re only required to take two editing classes, which isn’t really enough when it’s a major requirement for a position.
The fact is, the majority of students will graduate not having a lot of the skills that employers are looking for in a candidate.
The fact is, the majority of students will graduate not having a lot of the skills that employers are looking for in a candidate. Research points to the expectation gap that is evident between the roles we play in university and the role we are expected to play in real life. A survey of 30,000 university graduates revealed that schools needed to do more to prepare students for life after graduation. Meaning that school alone is not enough to get you a job, and the expectation to make up the gap is completely on you.
Your job is probably going to demand that you know how to do things you’ve never even heard of. Take advice from Martin Yates in his book Knock ‘em Dead: The Ultimate Job Search Guide; this is the point where you need to research those job postings, find the similarities and keep filling in the blanks. Take an online course or talk with experts who are already in your field. Grow your knowledge beyond the walls of your university or college.
You Want To Stand Out
University can sometimes have a way of putting everyone into a cookie cutter box. What’s wrong with that?
Desirable jobs have hundreds of applicants. Don’t believe it? Check LinkedIn. You know how HR managers read all those resumes? They don’t. Employers search for keywords using a database, or they will do a quick scan to find relevant experience on your resume.
You know how HR managers read all those resumes? They don’t.
Expanding your mind and collecting a storehouse of information is how you’re going to gain an edge and set yourself apart from everyone else. A degree is a degree, but innovation and new ideas are something that set you apart from your fellow grads.
You Need A Crossover Of Skills
Just because you are in sciences, it doesn’t mean that you are never going to have to give a presentation. Taking the time to learn about really basic, but really helpful skills after graduation is going to make you multifaceted and flexible – employers like that.
W.J. King and James G. Skakoon said it best, “If your skills and knowledge are valuable only to your current employer, you are in trouble. Sooner or later … your employer will no longer be interested in buying those skills, and you will have no place else to sell them.”
Transferable skills are very important in the workplace, and you will often need to pick up the knowledge of these skills outside of school. Communication skills, like interpersonal and teamwork skills, for example, may not always be the skills you’ll learn in your program. Improving these talents is always going to be a lifelong journey.
You Can Move From Employee To Expert
If you’re someone who is passionate about your field and your work, advancing your credentials will advance your career. Learning more about your field means that you’ll be able to mentor others, write articles and give interviews related to your field and become a more desirable candidate for promotions and higher ranking positions.
PRO TIP: Filling out the “Education” portion of your resume doesn’t only have to include the courses you took at post-secondary institutions. You can add seminars, speaker series and master classes to showcase your expertise.
*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.