Career Planning

Finding a Job: 3 Traits Your College Student Must Have

A college degree doesn’t mean what it did a generation ago. For parents of college students, times have changed since their college years.

According to The Dwindling Power of a College Degree*, the percentage of Americans with a college degree has nearly tripled since the 1970s. According to the article, with globalization, technology, and a growing chasm between the richest and poorest of the nation, finding a desirable job after college is more challenging than ever.

But take heart. There are three invaluable traits that your college student can hone to help secure a solid job after graduation.


Because U.S. workers are now competing with people around the world who for telecommuting jobs that don’t depend on location, they have to offer top-of-the-line skills that will trump a worker elsewhere who will work for lower wages.

By acquiring a solid education and never underestimating the importance of details, potential employees can prove their worth by applying the theory they learned in the classroom to real-world problems. For students who just get by with mediocre grades and an inability to grasp concepts and study diligently, their skills will be lacking and a good job will be out of reach.

Critical Thinking

Sure, technology has replaced many jobs and will continue to do so. Voicemail and e-mail replaces receptionists, an iPhone replaces a whole team of camera and editing crew members, and a Skype meeting replaces a conference room and all of the arrangements and tasks that go along with it.

But no technology can think on its feet, solve ever-changing problems, identify off-the-wall variables and their ramifications, or weigh the ethics of a particular decision. The workplace will always need critical thinkers who have vision and direction.


In addition to needing critical thinkers, employers must have workers who also care about what they think about. Nothing can replace the emotion and fervor of an employee who is passionate about the cause, industry, or customers. While there’s a lot to be said for a solid education and the savvy to produce successful results, those things can be developed in the classroom or under the mentorship of strong leaders.

A passion for the job, however, is innate. Your student’s unique gifts, values and interests will merge into one of his most marketable traits: passion.

The best way to develop these skills—like any—is to practice them. Encourage your student to take on any and all activities and hobbies that interest them in order to identify their passion(s).

Great foundations for any new skills can be found by seeking out relevant jobs, internships, or volunteer work in the field(s) that interest them. Attending classes, study groups, and public lectures will develop critical thinking skills, and participating in a variety of skill-based activities, seminars, and workshops, will help expand new found skill sets.

*Davidson, Adam. “The Dwindling Power of a College Degree.” New York Times, November 23, 2011.

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