Essential Skills to Getting a JobWhat Young People with Disabilities Need to KnowSoft Skills: The Competitive Edge What do employers look for in new employees? According to the 2006 reportAre They Really Ready to Work? Employers’ Perspectives on the Basic Knowledge and Applied Skills of New Entrants to the 21st Century U.S. Workforce, it may not be what some young job seekers expect. This in-depth survey of 461 business leaders con-ducted by the Conference Board, Corporate Voices for Working Families, Partnership for 21st Century Skills, and Society for Human Resource Management reveals that while the three ”R’s” (reading, writing, and arithmetic) are still fundamental to every employee’s ability to do the job, employers view “soft” skills as even more important to work readiness. The report also finds that younger workers frequently lack these skills, which include: • Professionalism or work ethic• Oral and written communication • Teamwork and collaboration skills • Critical thinking or problem-solving skills In 2007, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) discussed the importance of such skills with the Circle of Champions, a distinguished group of U.S. businesses that have received the Secretary of Labor’s New Freedom Initiative Award for innova-tive and proactive efforts to recruit, hire, and promote people with disabilities. As part of this dialogue, the companies identified the following competencies as key to the success of young workers in the 21st Century workplace.Work Ethic, Communication, & Problem-SolvingO F F I C E O F D I S A B I L I T Y E M P L O Y M E N T P O L I C Y
NetworkingSimply put, networking involves talking with friends, family members, and acquaintances about your employment goals, interests, and desires. It also involves reaching out beyond people you already know in order to expand the opportunities that may be available to you. When it comes to finding a job, networking is essential. According to Cornell University’s Career Center, 80 percent of available jobs are not advertised. Therefore, if you are not connecting with other people, you are likely to miss out on many job opportunities. To start networking, make a list of everyone who may be able to help you job search. Next, talk to people on the list and tell them that you are looking for employment. Ask if they know of any openings and to introduce you if they do. But don’t stop with the names on your list. Talk to cashiers, barbers, clergy, and anyone else you meet about their work and ask if they know of any jobs that match your interests. It is also es-sential to follow up with those with whom you have networked. Talking with a person once will only provide leads available at that point in time.