The 4 most important job skills for an entry-level candidate

'Focus is the new IQ'

Over 100 HR managers, recruiters, and CEOs agree: soft skills—not technical skills—are most important for entry-level job candidates today. 

Writing for Forbes, Caroline Beaton highlights this year's four most in-demand soft skills.

1. Focus

The abundance of technology and distraction these days makes paying attention—that is, really concentrating without checking your phone every few minutes—a hot commodity in the workplace. 

But technology doesn't have to hurt focus

"Focus is the new IQ," says Cal Newport, a computer science professor at Georgetown University and author of several books on academic and career success for young people.

Strong concentration can decrease careless errors, plus ensure effective time management and follow-through.

To prove they have a long attention span and the ability to follow through, Lindsey Dole, VP of People at Updater, suggests Millennials take control of independent projects during internships or assistant jobs. Dole says this will prove "you can own initiatives from beginning to end."

2. Commitment to learning

A postsecondary degree is no longer the "be-all-end-all" criteria that it used to be for entry-level candidates in the job market, Beaton writes. Employers want to see that new graduates can learn those skills that are best learned on the job, such as communicating with clients and customers.

Here is where a meaningful internship experience during college could really pay off

Will Tjernlund, CEO of Goat Consulting, says, "I know I must hire someone who is still willing to learn after they graduate college."

3. Adaptability

Though technical skills can be valuable for entry-level candidates in the short-term, Emőke Starr, a talent acquisition expert at Prezi, says technologies "change so quickly that by the time one becomes an 'expert' at something, it's time to learn something new."

A top candidate will be able to adapt to change, setbacks, and pressure in the workplace.

Adaptability is also a sign of "copability," or your ability to remain calm under pressure, says Jeff Vijungco, VP of Global Talent at Adobe.

The best way to become a master coper and adapter, Beaton says, is to "make grit the theme of your track record."

4. Humility

This is a trait that's unfortunately become rare—and, accordingly, coveted—among Millennials, says Beaton.

"Not taking yourself too seriously, admitting when you don't know stuff, and asking for help when you need it are some of the most advanced skills of all," she writes. "Admitting you're a beginner, over and over again, takes practice. It's also our only hope of actually advancing" (Beaton, Forbes, 1/6). 

Does your career center help students build the skills they need to succeed?


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