12 Ways to Gain Practical Skills Employers are Seeking

By Stephanie Koonar Modified on September 23, 2021
Tags : Careers

No matter your field, all employers are looking for employees with strong, practical skills, like problem solving and communication.

12 Ways to Gain Practical Skills Employers are Seeking. Photo credit: Unsplash, Mimi Thian.

Image credit: Mimi Thian, Unsplash.

Going back to school this fall will be different. Commend yourself for getting to this point. You have shown resilience and commitment.

How can you make the best of this school year? Whether you're in high school or post-secondary this year, you'll be focussed on your studies. And that's key! However, employers are looking for grads who have learned the theory and have some experience in the practical skills they require.

Therefore, I suggest that you keep an eye out for opportunities where you can build your real-world skills while you're studying.

In my recently published book, "Backpack to Briefcase, A Student's Guide to a Meaningful Career Journey," I provide readers with research on the practical skills that employers are looking for and how students can gain those skills.

What are employers looking for?

The practical skills employers are looking for include:

  • Critical thinking
  • Works well on a team
  • Strong collaboration abilities
  • Ability to solve complex problem
  • Digital fluency
  • Intercultural competencies

Look out for opportunities that will allow you to "apply" the theory you are learning. Seek out experiences that encourage you to build your leadership skills and develop your ability to work effectively with culturally-diverse teams. What do those opportunities look like?

12 ways to build your practical skills

You can build these practical skills by participating in opportunities such as:

  • Co-op work terms
  • Internships
  • Practicums
  • Apprenticeships
  • Applied projects
  • Starting your own business
  • Participating in case competitions and debates
  • Volunteering
  • Taking on a side hustle
  • Joining a student club
  • Studying abroad
  • Attending an international field school

Students who don't allocate time to building their experience while studying will be at a disadvantage once they graduate.

The most successful students focus on their studies AND dedicate time to building and developing their practical skills. Wishing you a successful year ahead!

Learn more about Backpack to Briefcase

Backpack to Briefcase by author Stephanie Koonar.

About the author: Stephanie Koonar is a marketing professional, academic, career coach, and workshop facilitator. A community connector, she is an award-winning college instructor who has taught over 4,000 students. Member of CACEE and member of the ACE-WIL BC research committee. A Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach and Co-Founder of PeerSpectives Consulting, she enjoys coaching purpose-driven individuals and organizations to be their best.

Stephanie and her PeerSpectives Consulting Co-Founder Louann McCurdy are available to partner with employers and educators to collaborate on program development, guest speak, and facilitate workshops. Contact Stephanie at SK.Peerspectives@gmail.com.

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