What Do Today’s Employers Want?

You may have good grades and a diploma, but that is no longer a guarantee that you will land a decent job. In addition, today’s employers want “soft skills.” They are looking for someone who can work well in teams, write and speak with clarity, adapt quickly to changing technology and business conditions, and interact with colleagues and clients from different countries and cultures. If you have the “soft skills” employers are seeking, you can easily differentiate yourself from other college graduates.

Soft skills are not the ones visible on your college transcript or in a job interview. Instead, employers are looking for a well-rounded person. To assess these skills, employers may observe you in role-playing exercises to see how you handle pressure and get along with others. They may prefer students who have already proven themselves in internships and co-op jobs while attending school. They may conduct contests that show how students solve problems and handle deadlines. In other words, getting a job today is likely to require more than a job interview.

While specific technical skills are still important, firms are seeking graduates who can think fast, articulate their ideas, engage in critical thinking and problem solving, handle pressure, and work in teams. Many employers find it difficult to find the right combination of hard and soft skills to make sure new hires succeed on the job.

Internships and co-op programs often give employers the information they need about a student’s potential to succeed and help to narrow the field of job applicants. For this reason, co-op and internship experience are rapidly becoming an important key to landing a good job.

Sponsoring competitions allow companies to see how creatively students solve problems, test their ability to handle tough challenges, and watch how they interact with others to ensure a good fit with company culture. Such contests students the opportunity to apply their skills to a practical issue and employers a chance to get to know them on a more personal level. The winners usually receive job offers.

By taking advantage of internships, co-op programs, and employer-sponsored competitions, students can test their technical skills, acquire “soft skills” that will make them more competitive in the job market, and make contacts that may result in a job offer.

How Much Space Do You Really Need?

More and more Americans are looking for increasingly small places to live, some less than 100 square feet. Small-space living is most popular with young urban singles and students who live in cities where the cost of living is high. Some micro-housing buildings provide living quarters for six to eight residents who share a kitchen; other similar spaces include a small kitchenette. The spaces are about the size of a camper or a hotel room, typically 150 to 250 square feet, and may even be transportable. Those promoting these small abodes aren’t talking about people who are “downsizing.” Instead, they have coined the term “rightsizing” to describe the goal of the “minimalists” who are choosing to live small. Continue reading

Keeping Your Vehicle Running

Following regular maintenance schedules and paying attention to signs of problems will prevent many auto-repair problems. A good way to keeping your vehicle in good condition is to follow the maintenance schedule in your vehicle’s owner manual is  You might also want to use a Basic Car Maintenance Checklist. If you don’t follow the manufacturer’s maintenance recommendations or notice signs that your vehicle is developing, you can end up with an expensive repair bill. Continue reading

Planning to Purchase a New or Used Vehicle

After rent, transportation costs are likely your next largest living cost. Your first task in keeping these costs in check is to make a careful decision when you select a new or used car or truck. Other tasks include minimizing the ongoing costs of owning a vehicle. Continue reading

Rethinking College Options

For years high school counselors and parents have told students that completing a bachelor’s degree is their ticket to the good life. Today, the cost of a college degree is skyrocketing and the potential of a degree leading to a well-paying job is a lot less certain. In addition, many young adults finish college facing years of repaying student loans. As a result, many students (and their parents) are questioning the value of a college education. Continue reading

Increasing Your Odds of College Success

The cost of completing a college degree is higher than ever! That cost is even higher for the many students who take five to six years to earn an undergraduate degree. With a year of college costing $17,500 at a typical in-state public university and much more at a private university, every extra year increases the price of your degree. Making careful choices of major and college will improve your odds of graduating on time with a degree that leads to a well-paying job. You can improve your chances of graduating even more by making graduating on time a priority. Continue reading