Every year colleges and universities around the world are graduating young professionals who are hungry and excited to kick-start their careers.
During the early days of your career, it’s important that you ask tough questions. It’s important for young professionals to be self-aware and understand that for the most part, they’re competing with people who have similar skillsets as them, similar ambitions as them and a similar degree as them.
So how can you get a job as soon as you graduate?
The same way you’ll keep a job once you get hired.
You focus on developing and building skills that employers care about. You focus on learning things that will help you stand out amongst other resumes. You can land a job by putting in the effort to gain skills that will help you ensure long term security.
Here are a few skills that any young professional can learn today that will help their career tomorrow:
1. How to edit images and modify visuals
I was talking to a Doctor who had to modify an ad for the practice she was working at.
I chuckled initially and then joked, “What did you use, Microsoft Paint?” To my surprise, she explained that she used Photoshop and taught herself how to use it back in her undergrad while on student council.
I was impressed.
Similarly, her colleagues and supervisor was also impressed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure she’d rather be elbow deep in doctor duty but having this skillset differentiates her from all the other PHDs in the clinic.
In my first job, I built a reputation for being one of the best deck creators in the office. I could sling together a PowerPoint like Michelangelo could sling together a masterpiece. I was efficient, effective and understood the art and science of what it takes to create a presentation that drives sales or conveys a message in a compelling way.
I learned how to create compelling presentations by spending many nights on Slideshare studying the top decks for flow and their approach. Beyond that, I studied the work of Garr Reynolds as if I was still in school and put every word in his book titled Presentation Zen into practice as often as I could.
The best way to build skills in the world of visuals and design is by doing. For me, I learned how to be good at Photoshop and how to use Illustrator by studying and practicing with hundreds of online Photoshop Tutorials.
The site PSD Tuts was instrumental in my early days of learning. Since then, sites like Lynda and Udemy have popped up and started delivering information on a similar scale of quality.
2. Understand how to read and write HTML
It might sound scary when you first hear I’m suggesting you write code but this is coding 101. It’s the first computer language that most programmers pick up and it’s one that you can learn fairly quickly.
It’s surprising to think that schools are actually allowing people to go through the school system without a basic understanding of HTML.
First and foremost, you don’t really need to learn how to write HTML, it’s more important to simply understand it. In most cases, you’re going to run into a need to understand HTML when creating a website or creating content that will live online through a CMS or email system like MailChimp.
In most cases, you won’t actually need to use written code to craft your content. It’s more important that you can fix the code if something goes haywire. In most platforms, you will be met with a simple WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) system like what you find in WordPress or Microsoft word. In these systems, the formatting is done without any requirement of writing code, but sometimes you will need to fiddle with the code they create.
Teaching yourself the basics of HTML should take no longer than 20 or 30 minutes. Here are a few great resources to get you started:
3. How to be a Spreadsheet or Excel wizard
I’m still not a spreadsheet or Excel wizard but those who are, thrive in every office situation. The ability to use functions, tools and formulas to achieve answers and identify solutions to complex problems is something that can help you in a variety of different situations.
One of the most important functions to know when using Excel is the act of VLOOKUP. Not familiar with it? That’s okay. I wasn’t either until my Fiancé taught me how to use it when she was ripping through excel as we planned our wedding budget.
VLOOKUP Is one of Excel’s most valuable functions yet one of the most misunderstood. This five minute lesson on VLOOKUP will give you the insights and information you need to go from Excel zero to hero.
Understanding that function allow is beneficial but there’s so much more to learn. Findlay is also an Excel wizard (although his spreadsheets aren’t as pretty as mine) and it’s because he knows how to use IF, COUNTIF, ROUND and NOW.
These are just some of the many Excel functions every young professional should know. Take the time to study these, learn them, own them and it will help you keep or land the job of your dreams regardless of your field.
4. Understand how to use Google like a boss
Are you Google literate? How is your Google Fu?
I’m not talking about just going to Google and typing in a basic question. I’m talking about truly understanding how Google does its search and the various ways to craft your search to ensure the results you get back are top notch.
Understanding how to find answers via Google is more valuable than most people think. It sounds simple and Google might seem easy but you would be surprised how many times I’m asked questions that could have been Googled by the client or by a colleague.
Someone once asked me if there were any stats on the power of social media in business. Within 1.8minutes, I was able to pull 5 stats, send them over and make an impression that led to this person hiring me for their product launch. I could have easily sent them this link: LMGTFY. But instead, I stretched my muscle by being quick on the draw and able to deliver an answer quickly.
This is what people want. But sometimes the question will be a bit more challenging. In those cases, it’s recommended that you understand these shortcuts and tricks of the trade:
Having these insights in your back pocket can be a game changer for your career and make you a valuable resource on any team.
There are lots of ways to ensure that you can keep a job. Having skills that most people don’t have but skills that every professional should have will help you stand out and be seen as a valuable member of the team.
So the next time you’re wondering what you should do when you’re bored, remember this blog post. Remember that these skills are going to pay dividends in your life while things like sitting around watching UFC will do nothing for your career.
As a young professional, you shouldn’t spend too much time worrying about the people you’re competing with for a job. Instead you should be focused on building your own skills and developing your own talents. This thinking will arm you with the ability to stand out in the long term and win at this game called life.
What other skills do you think people should spend more time building? What skills have helped you grow your career in ways you didn’t expect?