4 vital career skills you won’t learn in college

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You can learn a lot in college, but you may not come away with all the skills you need to succeed in the world of work.

You can learn a lot in college, but you may not come away with all the skills you need to succeed in the world of work. We’ve come up with four real world skills you need to make sure you develop before you graduate.

1. Negotiating effectively

Effective negotiation and bargaining skills are always valuable and will serve you well both at work and in your personal interactions. However, these skills aren’t usually taught in colleges — even in business courses — says Andrew Ward, managing director and founder of Scorchsoft Web and mobile apps.

“In business, you negotiate with suppliers about rates, customers about price, employees about benefits and employers about promotion. You don’t find many people in high power jobs that haven’t mastered the art of negotiation,” he explains. 

2. Writing concisely

Many people take business writing courses and learn how to write in a formal and professional tone. This is an excellent skill that will serve you well in the working world. What’s often left out of these courses, however, is how to make your point quickly and effectively.

“In college, there's emphasis on being wordy, with certain lengths of papers being assigned,” says Rich Grant, president of the Maine College Career Consortium. “I was in a training program in my mid-20s and we had to write weekly reports to our management mentor. After a few of them, she told me to cut my four pages down to a page of bulleted highlights.” Busy professionals simply don’t have time to read a thesis, so distill your ideas down to their essential components before presenting them to your supervisor or colleagues.

3. Networking strategically

Many people find it easy to meet lots of new people in college and develop a social network, without much effort. Did you learn how to leverage that into career success, though, or just to become as popular as possible?

Froswa' Booker-Drew, an author and networking expert, says she didn’t learn this lesson until after college. She was very involved in extracurricular activities in school and had built a large network. However, she didn’t grasp the power of building relationships that could help her with a job search or career progression. “It is important to seek out mentors in your field of interest and maintain those relationships,” she says. People want to help you, but not when you always need something. Maintain the relationships for their own value and career help will come.

4. Interacting humbly

Getting past your emotional hangups and learning to operate sincerely while demonstrating appreciation for others will help your career flourish. “The ability to sincerely express appreciation and ask for forgiveness can help you avoid being mired in conflict and mend a relationship. Yet most of us think appreciation prevents us from getting credit and asking forgiveness means we are to blame,” says Scott C. Hammond, professor of management at Utah State University.

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