The Most Important Skills Recent Grads Need To Learn Today

According to LinkedIn, technical skills related to data and artificial intelligence are currently some of the most in-demand skills and a large number of recent grads are learning them. This suggests a trend in hiring in favor of candidates with these skills. As a recent grad, you can gain a competitive edge by learning them.

I spoke to Emily Poague, Vice President of Marketing, LinkedIn Learning, who shared crucial advice for recent grads entering today's workforce. Below is an edited interview:

Shelcy Joseph: What are your top tips for ways recent college graduates can learn and grow in their career? Why is continuous learning important?

Emily Poague: Transitioning from college to the working world is a big moment in one’s life. It’s not easy to transition from student life to the professional world, but continuous learning can help.

This is especially important today as skills are rapidly changing. What you learned in school will not carry you through your career, making it vital to invest in yourself and build the skills you need for the future of work. Here are some of my top tips to make learning part of your ongoing career development.

Seek out learning resources at work. Most companies offer a range of learning resources, whether they are in person, online or a mix of both. While in-person trainings provide the human touch, online learning is key for building the skills you need on demand. LinkedIn Learning, for example, provides over 14,000 courses that teach you how to build both hard and soft skills, whether you need to brush up on speaking skills right before a presentation or quickly learn how to make an excel dashboard for a deliverable. These are all moments when learning can help.

That said, continuous learning doesn’t always require attending a three-hour lecture or sitting by a computer all day. Make bite-size learning part of your routine. Take advantage of micro-learning opportunities, whether it’s watching a five-minute online learning course, reading an article or listening to an audio course. This could be during your lunch break, your commute or afterwork exercise class.

While companies provide tools and resources to help you learn, it’s key that you take learning into your own hands. Think critically about where you want to be in five years and who you want to be -- do you want to be an excellent presenter, a people manager or a thought leader in your industry? Building both hard and soft skills will help you reach those goals.

Joseph: What are the skills new grads are investing in?

Poague: Compared to other professionals, new graduates are uniquely pursuing data-related skills on LinkedIn Learning, an indicator that young professionals are smartly thinking about the future of work. Specifically, the top five skills they are learning are data visualization, data modeling, Python, web analytics and databases.

While these skills are important, soft skills such as creativity, persuasion, collaboration, adaptability and time management are also critically important to invest in as a new graduate. These skills are uniquely human and cannot be replaced by technology or AI. In fact, these are the top five soft skills that companies are looking for today.

Joseph: One of the most popular skills new grads are learning is data visualization. Can you share more insight on what this skill entails? How can learning data visualization make you better at your job?

Poague: Data visualization is a highly in-demand skill that can give new grads a major leg up in the workforce. Put simply, data visualization means a visual representation of data – think charts and graphs.

Data visualization blends a range of skills. It entails analyzing data, communicating the findings and then having the creative skills to build compelling visuals that make the data understandable to your target audience. That’s not easy to do. What’s arguably most interesting about data visualization [being the number one skill that new grads are learning] is that it combines data science and creativity, two of the most in-demand skills that companies are looking for in 2019.

Joseph: Why is now a good time for new grads to take advantage of courses on LinkedIn Learning?

Poague: Using LinkedIn Learning as a new grad can help in a variety of ways. Whether it’s learning how to prepare for an interview, tips for job hunting or negotiating a job offer, LinkedIn Learning has thousands of courses to help new grads land their first job and excel at it.

From a longer term perspective, the skills needed today are changing quicker than ever before. The digital revolution and new technologies are creating a new landscape and in turn, the need for new skills. To keep up with the changing times, new grads should constantly invest in themselves to develop their skills and stay ahead in their careers. Building learning into their routine now will set new grads up for success in the long run.

Source: Forbes

The mission of Next Steps Navigation is helping college graduates navigate the ups and downs of finding their place in the world, by finding their right next step. Recognizing the huge gap between getting a college degree and the realities of entering the workforce, we developed our coaching program to help families navigate this critical transition. We’ll meet you where you are and get you pointed in the right direction to choose a job – and a life – that you love.

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