Recent Grads Lacking in People Skills

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by Alex A. Kecskes

Most recent college graduates are brimming with the erudition of academia, but many lack the practical business skills they need to survive in the workplace. Regardless of which administrative field you've chosen as a career, you'll need to hone some of the following people skills:

Teamwork. College students for the most part do their work independently. In business, it's more about team play. That means you have to listen and respect the thoughts and ideas of your peers as much as those of your supervisor's. Loners and self-perceived "superstars" are often shunned by co-workers. In school you earned an "A" all by yourself. At work, you often have to share the credit.

Humility. Even if you saved the day with a great presentation or helped bring in that "whale" of a client, don't expect a raise, bonus or a corner office. Be humble, give credit to the team---even it you did most of the work. Most good supervisors will realize you quarterbacked the winning effort and your humility will play big when it comes time for your review.

Keeping Your Cool. Heated debates often occur in work situations, and you need to be able to handle them without screaming, throwing things or storming away in anger. Learn to focus on results, not emotions. Be open to the other person's point of view. Hear them out. Avoid histrionics.

Read the News. You should be able to hold your own when it comes to current events in your industry. Read your industry's pubs and websites. Have a copy of The Wall Street Journal and one or two other industry pubs delivered to your office or cubicle. A sprinkling of news tidbits during meetings or in emails/memos can be impressive—but don't overdo it.

To brush up on your people skills, check out Robert Bolton's paperback, "People Skills: How to Assert Yourself, Listen to Others, and Resolve Conflicts"

I used to have a number of industry pubs delivered to my office when I worked in advertising. The stats and news would come in handy at meetings and pitches.

For more information on administrative jobs, check out:

Alex A. Kecskes has written hundreds of published articles on health/fitness, "green" issues, TV/film entertainment, restaurant reviews and many other topics. As a former Andy/Belding/One Show ad agency copywriter, he also writes web content, ads, brochures, sales letters, mailers and scripts for national B2B and B2C clients.



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