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Phoenix Forward

5 basic skills you learned in college (that can help you get a job)

Job skills you learned in college

For every college student or graduate who is worried that you have nothing to offer an employer: You are so wrong.

You acquired plenty of skills in school that would interest an employer, says Randy Miller, vice president of career counseling at Phoenix Career Services, adding that you just have to identify them and then learn how to communicate them to potential employers.

Here is his list of often overlooked and undersold skills you picked up in school that should be included on your resumé:


1. Communication

Employers are looking for people who can communicate — verbally and in writing — effectively. Whether you took a public speaking class or just gave reports in courses, you probably polished your presentation style along the way.

How to prove it: “You can show off these actual skills in the job interview by doing an effective job communicating and ultimately selling yourself,” Miller says.

2. Critical thinking

“If you’re a critical thinker, then you can evaluate, analyze, act quickly and ultimately make effective decisions,” Miller explains. 

You picked up and sharpened these critical-thinking skills in school — actions as basic as picking the right classes for your course of study showed critical thinking. 

How to prove it: Think of a specific class assignment or project in which you had to analyze a problem and either solved it or found a way to overcome it. Then plan to use that as an example in an interview, as well as on your resumé, if appropriate.

3. Writing

Good grammar is essential in today’s marketplace.

“College writing is your opportunity to further improve your skills,” Miller says, adding that, as a student, it’s important to be open to feedback from faculty and really take the time to develop your ability to express yourself in a professional manner.

How to prove it: Miller suggests that you show off these writing skills in your resumé and cover letter. Some employers, depending on the job, may also ask for a writing sample. Fortunately, most college graduates have reports and essays to choose from.

4. Leadership and teamwork

Employers want people who can lead and also work as part of a larger team, Miller notes. Your degree certainly wasn’t earned without group projects — particularly at University of Phoenix, where all coursework is done as part of a learning team.

How to prove it: Consider the times you and other students worked together on assignments. You may have shown these skills in school by heading up a group project, which you can mention on a resumé or in an interview.   

5. Multitasking

Many students go to school, work full time and still find room in their schedules for charitable or community activities — all fine examples of multitasking and juggling workloads.

How to prove it: To help get your point across, Miller suggests asking for references from faculty members and requesting that they highlight moments of success despite your heavy workload.