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Have You Considered Your Soft Skills Lately?

People that come to SI for school are here because they want to gain technical skills -- hard skills -- that will get them the job that they want. This goes for everyone -- librarians, archivist, social computers, information policy analyst. Everyone. So, when you leave SI to find your first real information job, or when you are in search of an internship, you know that just about everyone that you are competing against for a job or an internship has the same technical skills as you – because they are your classmates. So what makes you different? Your soft skills.

Have you even considered your soft skills lately? Does everyone even know what soft skills are? As a career counselor, I probably toss those words around too much because it’s my industry lingo. Soft skills are those “other? things that make you a good worker: communication, effectiveness, attention-to-detail, just general likeability. I found a couple websites that list soft skills:

What Are Soft Skills? by Kate Lorenz, CareerBuilder.com -- list top ten soft skills for managers
What Do Employers Really Want? Top Skills and Values Employers Seek from Job-Seekers by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D. and Katharine Hansen
6 'Soft' Skills You Need for Success by Rukmini Iyer

These articles will give you some ideas of what soft skills are out there -- think about which ones you possess -- and which ones you don't and could be working on when you are doing group projects or working at your internship this summer.

You can add different soft skills to your resume – both in a skills section or woven right into your responsibilities sections. Sometimes you will see them clearly listed in a job description as a requirement. When are you interviewing and you are asked the daunting question of "Why are you the best person for this position," it can be your soft skills -- and demonstrated examples of their use -- that gets you the job.

TechCareers.com also did an article on how you can your soft skills certified: Want To Keep Your Job Safe? Beef Up Your Soft Skills by Marianne Kolbasuk McGee. I don't think that it’s necessary to go that far right now (or maybe ever), but as you progress in your career, consider courses such as the ones suggested. It can keep you fresh and more productive, and every organization wants to hire and retain an employee that is vested in their own progression and success. ~Kelly

Posted by kkowatch on July 25, 2007 at 01:13 PM | Comments (0)

Federal Jobs -- Have You Considered Going Government?

The government job sector doesn't have exactly the best rap. But there are a lot of positives in working for the government. I blogged about this very same topic after I got back from my visit to Washington D.C. in February/March for Alternative Spring Break. Out of the 16 employers I visited (of the 18 total ASB sites), half of them were government organizations. And the alumni and employees I met with were happy! Check out my blog from before on what I said about working for the government in Federal Jobs For SI Students (March 2007).

MSN posted an article this week about the Four Reasons to Work for the Government (Source). The four reasons include:

Reason No. 1: Flexible Qualifications
Reason No. 2: Pay and Benefits
Reason No. 3: Job Security
Reason No. 4: Hiring Outlook
(Click on Extended Entry for the details of each of these reasons).

My recommendation: Sign up for a job agent on USAJOBS.com and see what's out there. You might be surprised that your dream job could be in the government. If you are even more curious, email some of the SI alumni that work for the government and ask them what they think. You can find several in the Student-Alumni Network. And many people don't realize that US government jobs are global; if you want to go overseas, it's a great way to get there and they typically take pretty good care of you while you are there.

Reason No. 1: Flexible Qualifications
Years of experience can frequently replace college education in a government position. Senior level government positions may not require a college degree at all, while similar corporate positions do. Plus, the government hires people at all levels of experience and education: inexperienced high school graduates, college students, retiring veterans, GEDs and Ph.D.s. The government is also more likely to hire older qualified workers.

Reason No. 2: Pay and Benefits
Government salaries are comparable to corporate counterparts. The government offers locality pay, so your salary reflects your area's cost of living. Plus, the government is known for strong employee benefits, which are the same for every employee. They receive, among other benefits:

Thirteen sick days per year that roll over;

Ten paid holidays and vacation time that increases over the years;

Flexible work schedules and teleworking options;

Options for extending healthcare coverage to parents, adult children and other family questions.

Some agencies offer public transit subsidies, recruitment bonuses, student loan repayment and relocation assistance. The government's retirement benefits are secure, unlike the private sector. Government pensions are based on salary and years of service, and health insurance continues into retirement.

Reason No. 3: Job Security
While today's corporate jobs are more subject to downsizing, job security is one of the most noteworthy advantages of government employment. Though the government is known for its strict hierarchal structure and strict guidelines/procedures, these protocols protect your job from elimination. Thus, government jobs offer the luxury of planning for the future.

Reason No. 4: Hiring Outlook
The government is always hiring. In fact, there may be up to 18,000 job vacancies at any given time. Employees are always retiring, being promoted or moving to the private sector. So despite national trends toward downsizing and budget cuts, the government always has job openings due to turnover.

Posted by kkowatch on July 02, 2007 at 11:02 AM | Comments (0)