Tag Archives | skills

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College is demanding; there are essay and assignment deadlines to juggle, exams to study for, summer internships to find, and a graduate job to pursue. The transition from college student to young professional can be equally tough.

So, what are the top five skills you need to be working on to get you through college life and out the other side to employment with ease?

Clue: If you are only concentrating on your college work, you may not be working on all the right skills you need for a great job after graduation.

1. Communication

The ability to communicate with others is vital. It’s not just about being able to voice your own opinions and arguments; equally important is the ability to read and understand others.

There’s a theory that over 90 percent of communication is non-verbal, which means people largely get their message across through body language and tone of voice, rather than the actual words they choose to use.

People spend lots of time chatting with peers. This kind of talk is informal and unstructured. Most feel more comfortable talking with individuals from a similar generation and background.

However, when meeting with college tutors, attending interviews for employment and further down the line in professional work, more formal dialogue is required.

For this reason, it’s vital to work on your interpersonal communication skills – to hone your ability to read others by taking the time to listen, watch and converse with people from all walks of life. This is a particularly important part of interview preparation.

Part-time or voluntary work can offer you opportunities for improving your communication skills.

2. Writing

Perhaps you thought learning to write was for grade-schoolers? Not so at all.

Thanks to the internet, there’s never been a greater demand for the written word. Every day, people write through direct messaging, email and social media; they read blogs and online news.

Although much of what is read and written may have gone online, this doesn’t mean quality has been compromised. Students still need to turn in first-rate essays and reports, and people are all keen that whatever they write on social media gives a good impression.

Outside in the post-college world of work, email is a dominant form of communication, detailed business proposals and scientific reports are still being written, and companies need to be able to market their products and services through quality web content, blog posts and succinct social media. In fact, according to the most recent NACE survey, 4 out of 5 employers see good written communication as a vital skill.

Without a doubt, you need to be able to write well. You may not want to be a journalist or novelist, but whatever your goals, you absolutely do need to be able to get your point across through the written word.

It can be simple to improve written English skills. The most straightforward way to learn to write in a more advanced way is to read. By reading the kind of styles you wish to emulate, you can observe the structures, the style, the formality and the vocabulary used.

3. Critical Thinking

People today live in an age wherein they are continually bombarded with information via the internet and their smartphones; never before have they had to contend with such a volume of media passing by their eyes.

However, their ability to evaluate this vast quantity of information and form their own arguments is often lacking.

Unfortunately, the way in which people were taught in high school meant that they were expected to regurgitate a required response to pass tests. This often means that people find it difficult to analyze the swathes the information they receive at college level, where greater understanding and depth of knowledge is required.

It is vital for students to think critically enough to identify and evaluate different arguments and see that there may be bias, misinformation or alternative ways of looking at the subject in anything they read or view. This will enable them to construct their own arguments and responses in written or oral discussions.

In the graduate world, employers are increasingly looking for candidates who can think critically, evaluate problems and provide alternative solutions, rather than passing the buck.

4. Initiative

Initiative is a skill in demand from graduate employers.

This is because, in the world of work, students who willingly show initiative demonstrate that they take responsibility for something. They know that if the project they are working on does not produce good results, they are responsible for that. They will therefore work hard to ensure the best outcomes.

For this reason, demonstrating initiative shows the beginnings of leadership skills, too. Initiative is about taking decisions and ownership of a situation. This person will not need to be micromanaged and can help engage others.

To practice this skill in student life, look for opportunities where you can get a handle on something that interests you and show you can make the most of situations. It could be starting a micro-business, writing a blog, or taking an active interest in student politics.

5. Teamwork

Finally, over 82 percent of employers questioned in the NACE survey say they actively search for team players when sifting through résumés, and this figure has been rising in recent years.

Once in employment, very few people work autonomously. Their role and input are nearly always part of a bigger picture, where colleagues are of equal value and importance to the finished results.

However, as a college student where you are largely working alone on essays, projects and assignments, it can be hard to gather much experience of teamwork during your college years.

Potential employers need to see evidence of teamwork, so for a fully-rounded résumé, you need to have something concrete that demonstrates you’ve worked successfully alongside others.

Your contributions to sports teams, music and drama ensembles, political or charity campaign groups can all show that you’re a team player, so make the most of opportunities to take part in life outside of the classroom.

This article was contributed by guest author Maloy Burman.

Innovations in technology continue to influence education and have a major impact on how students study and learn.

However, there are still some benefits to taking the “old school” approach. For instance, taking notes by hand can actually have a lot of positive effects.

Research shows that handwriting increases focus, improves critical thinking, and even inspires creativity. Also, getting off the computer and writing notes by hand will help limit and prevent distractions associated with being online.

GetVoIP has put together an infographic that explains these benefits and more. The infographic also features proven note-taking techniques, including linear and non-linear note-taking, Mind Mapping, and the Cornell method. While laptops and mobile devices offer convenient options for note-taking, consider taking notes by hand every so often to keep your mind sharp.

Benefits of Handwriting

Image by GetVoIP.com

This article was contributed by Andrew Dennis .

Image by Anne Preble, unsplash.com

Adventures of college students always make the best stories, but in reality, things aren’t always that simple and funny. Though we gladly think about parties, friends and all the fun we had, being in college teaches us about life and its less fun sides too, like learning how to save money and prioritize correctly. If you’re a student on a tight budget, you know that every cent counts and how important it is to learn to spend money wisely.

Meal plans in colleges can cost a small fortune, which is why they’re not always an option for frugal students. Thankfully, dorms are equipped with shared kitchens that can be abundantly used for honing your cooking skills, which will not only save you money, but will help you learn how to feed yourself on your own. That’s a big deal! If you’re still finding your way around how to cook in your dorm, these 5 tips will help you stay on a budget.

1. Shop in Bulk
Whether you’re living with a roommate, or you’re lucky enough to have your own apartment, when you’re buying food, you need to know how to do it right. What are the ingredients you use the most and what is their shelf life? One of the go-to strategies when it comes to saving money is to buy food in bulks. Not all food, naturally, but things like flour, rice, pasta and tomato sauce can stay in the cupboard for longer periods of time and you can save a whole lot by buying them in large quantities. It would be wise to organize one big shopping trip every month, when you can restock your fridge and set a foundation for what you’re going to be cooking in the next several weeks. There’s no excuse not to cook when you’ve got all the ingredients at your fingertips and buying in bulk will save you money, time and energy.

2. Don’t Go to the Supermarket Every Day
This is a big one, even though most college students don’t realize it. If you don’t go on a food shopping spree once a month, you risk ending up at the supermarket every other day, buying foods you need and spending more money on less quantity. Besides, when you go to buy a couple of things, you usually come back with much more than you predicted and that alone can cost you a lot. If you truly want to save and cook real food in your dorm, forget about running off to the store every day. It helps you to steer clear of temptation and your bank account will be grateful.

3. Know What You Eat
College is the time when most of us are running around winging it as we go, but this shouldn’t be the case when it comes to our diet. It’s wise to learn the basics when it comes to the nutritional value of different kinds of food and how you can make them work to your advantage. Chances are you’re not a cooking wiz, but you’ve got the World Wide Web at your disposal and you can learn pretty much anything you set your mind to. Also, learning what foods are good for you and what you should avoid is essential because you want to eat well and stay full longer. If you have a roommate, split your cooking tasks and “specialize” in different things – healthy meal prep, baking, meat preparation, veggie preparation – you don’t have to learn it all on your own and at once. The key here is not to recoil from cooking, which is infinitely cheaper than having a meal plan, but to have a constructive approach that will allow you to learn a new skill and save a pretty penny too.

4. Don’t Go Overboard with Dishes
You need to be smart when it comes to buying dishes, because a) they’re quite expensive and b) you don’t want to have bunch of dishes with you every year when you have to move. Less is definitely more in this case, so don’t burden your kitchen with unnecessary gadgets and gizmos that you barely use. Know what you need and how much of it you need, otherwise your student budget will suffer and so will your kitchen, as it will be packed with stuff you have no use for. When you know you’re going to use something often, like a frying pan, buy a high-quality one that can be used for just about anything – it will take up less space and you will spend less money in the long run.

5. Don’t Do Frozen Meals
Frozen meals might sound like a great idea when your exams are around the corner and you can’t sleep well, let alone cook, but you really shouldn’t go for it. Not only are they expensive, but they are also packed with sodium, fats and extra calories, so that they can keep you full longer. If you know you’re going to have a hectic couple of weeks, prepare. Cook extra batches of your favorite meals and pop them into the freezer. That way, not only are you saving some serious money, but you’re eating healthy food and you know exactly what’s in it, which can’t be said about frozen dinners.

Being good at saving money isn’t something that comes overnight, and you will need experience and practice to make it work. Cooking in your dorm has many benefits when you develop the habit of doing it and that way, you take your diet into your own hands, which is all the more reason to be responsible about it.

This article was contributed by guest author Vanessa Davis.

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There is no excuse not to sharpen your digital skills in this modern day. The Internet has made many things possible; among them the ability to study for free to attain all manner of skills – right at the comfort of your space. The most marketable skills are digital skills because you have to keep up with the times. The best part is that no matter who you are or where you are, you can enhance your professionalism by acquiring a wide range of digital skills. This article documents eight digital skills you can learn from home, absolutely free.

1. Touch Typing

Every person should consider this wonderful skill. Touch typing will make you very proficient when it comes to typing on your computer. You will rely on muscle memory rather than looking at the keys. This is the sure way to type super-fast while eliminating major errors. Whether you are working for a company or for yourself, typing fast and effectively will save you both time and money – not to mention that you’ll be the envy of your friends. It is a great skill to get started with. Test your typing speed online and study touch typing if you do not have an impressive speed. This skill is free and a quick search online will reveal exactly where to start.

2. Product Management

Product management skills allow you to manage or coordinate the processing of digital products. This means you can manage teams from the idea level to launch, whether for sites, apps and even wearable technology. Product managers will oversee the process while working with designers, marketers and developers. How to seamlessly do this will be made possible by your digital skills in product management. The good news is that you can study this online, free of charge. You will get excellent insights that allow you to stand out from the crowd. This skill will also see you successfully learn how to use relevant tools; to facilitate the collaboration of your team. Virtually anyone can attain this skill and it is worth taking full advantage of.

3. HTML and CSS

Having some coding skills is definitely the best thing you can do to add value to your profession. HTML and CSS are the two most important coding languages that are used to build websites. HTML is the foundation and many people who have mastered this skill have learned it online for free. CSS is the next level of coding and it will play a role in bringing various features to a website. After learning these skills, you will be able to enhance a brand the right way by building the right outfit for the online space. You can do this for your brand or for that of your employer. Again, you do not need to be very intelligent to master this skill. You only need to have a keen need to learn, and some time to spare. Learn absolutely free online and enhance your skill-set.

4. Photoshop

There are many people who are familiar with Photoshop but have never gotten around to using it. The truth of the matter is that if you have never used it, it can be a bit intimidating. Photoshop skills will go a long way in helping your products in a number of ways. From designing websites to apps and social media images; Photoshop skills will save you money. This is because you do not have to hire someone else to do this for you. Additionally, you can create designs that you actually like as you customize your products. Photoshop skills can be acquired for free and searching online is the best place to begin your skill acquisition. The good thing is the Photoshop is highly user-friendly.

5. SEO

Without Search Engine Optimization skills, you can be sure that your online website marketing endeavors will be compromised. You need to know what makes a good site suitable for the search engines. There are all manner of tactics employed by site owners to remain relevant online. Through SEO, you are able to learn the right ways to fully optimize your site in a sustainable manner. From SEO content to analytics, there is so much to learn. Thankfully, you do not have to pay for it online. Acquiring a wealth of experience in this area will enable you build very strong brands. Keep in mind that keeping your skill up to date is the way to go; there are so many SEO elements that crop up daily in the ever-changing digital environment.

6. Digital Marketing

Marketing products and services digitally has become the order of the day, as companies are able to make sales and big profits. Learning how digital marketing works will also propel you in the right direction if you are looking to engage this field. In reality, we all engage in digital marketing for one thing or another. Learning the best practices will give you that extra edge that will keep you ahead of the pack. This area aims to grab the attention of digital customers for better product visibility. There are all manners of tactics to employ and studying free online will allow you to attain these crucial digital skills.

7. Social Media Management

There is no question that most of us use social media. However, what many people do not have are the right skills to use social media while capitalizing on the potential gains. In this respect, social media management skills are pivotal and will allow you to perform better. From Twitter to Facebook and Instagram, there are endless social media channels to talk about. In light of this, knowing how to handle your social media engagements is a digital skill that you can learn online for free.

8. A New Language

Learning a new language may not sound like a digital skill. However, because we are living in a global village, learning a new language can open up an array of opportunities that will enhance your life. To this end, learning a new language for free online will not just help you appreciate another culture, but it will give you an economic edge as well.

This article was contributed by guest author Adam Fort.

Image by Fabian Irsara, unsplash.com

Image by Fabian Irsara, unsplash.com

There are many great reasons to pursue a professional career, but education is often essential for certain professions. Those considering careers in areas such as law, business, or medicine must consider the costs, but education can be a catalyst for advancement. Here are seven ways education can benefit your professional career.

1. Professional Requirements
Certain careers require education or training. For example, becoming a lawyer requires a law degree. After law school, aspiring attorneys sit for the bar exam in their state and are licensed upon passing. Similarly, paralegals also require certification. Paralegal schools offer certificates, after which exams are required for licensure. For many other fields, similar programs are necessary to enter the profession.

2. Management Positions
For those seeking promotions, many businesses look for people with experience and education. It can be so important that some firms pay for employees to complete degree programs. Once you have the right educational background, it will simply take time and experience to move up the corporate ladder.

3. Alumni Networks
If you attend a prestigious university with a loyal alumni base, you can tap into that professional network. Many graduates look to hire students from their old school. Networking is a great way to get a foot in the door at competitive firms.

4. Diverse Skills
Education also develops valuable skills like critical thinking, communication and collaboration. These skills are highly valuable in the workplace. A graduate degree like an MBA will provide a broad foundation that can be applied to any field.

5. Experience and Training
One of the most valuable assets for any professional is experience. Many schools offer internships for students to gain work experience. A company may even hire you for a full-time position upon completion.

6. Learn from Professionals
In college, many professors have years of professional experience. You can benefit from their wisdom in any given industry as you learn how to navigate your own career path.

7. Personal Development and Maturity
The process of learning will also give you perspective and maturity as your career moves forward. Understanding the expectations and possibilities in a field is a huge advantage as you make your way professionally.

A professional career offers many great incentives but education is often needed to enter or advance in certain fields. As you consider the costs, also remember the benefits that an education can provide. Education will certainly open many doors and provide great ways to advance in your selected profession.

This article was contributed by guest author Lizzie Weakley.

Image by Anna Vander Stel, unsplash.com

Image by Anna Vander Stel, unsplash.com

There’s a big difference between arguing and debating. Debating requires a certain level of decorum and eloquence to actually win. When debating, you can use the following approaches in order to strengthen your position without simply attacking your opponent’s position. Achieving greater eloquence in your words can help you succeed and get to your end goal in any in-person debate:

Acknowledge Your Opponent’s Position, Then Distinguish, Distinguish, Distinguish!
Acknowledging your opponent’s position puts them in the unfortunate position of having to acknowledge yours as well, lest they want to appear dogmatic in their approach. When you show that you understand their position, but have a different perspective based on logic and objective facts, it strengthens your argument by showing you’ve considered other ideas and settled on yours as being the strongest. The trick here is to distinguish why yours is different and how the opponent’s position fails to account for what yours takes into account. By stating how your positions differ in a way that implies your position is superior, your opponent is left to do the explaining. Remember the old adage: If you’re explaining, you’re losing. Make your opponent explain why their position is not wrong.

Use Objective Facts and Avoid Anecdotes
While anecdotes are entertaining and moving, they lack objectivity. Staying objective strengthens your position by showing that your rationale takes into account the outliers that will always exist. Additionally, statistics are stronger and can easily discount the persuasiveness of an opponent’s anecdote. If an opponent in a debate resorts to anecdotes, it is easy to dismiss them with statistics that show the story is not a true reflection of the issue, but rather a red herring meant to distract. Using real measurable data allows you to present your position as an objective, logical conclusion based on facts.

Keep Calm and Listen to Your Opponent
When debating any topic, getting excited or riled up may be unavoidable, but you should do your best to avoid it. Being able to put your personal feelings aside, while difficult, is very important when it comes to understanding what your opponent is actually saying. If you get upset by their third sentence, you risk not really hearing what the rest of their position entails. Listening to your opponent is critical as it will enable you to distinguish your position as well. If you missed something, it invariably will be the most important thing.

If you’re looking for courses to perfect your debate skills, ones offered for a master’s degree in law are perfect. Education like this can teach you to pick apart arguments as you hear them, rather than getting worked up in the moment. They can also teach you how to argue passionately and get your point across without being viewed as aggressive. It’s a delicate balance, but becoming better at your debating skills can help put you ahead in your career or your personal life. Use these ideas to help your in-person arguments and give you an edge. It’s a great personal skill to have in almost any industry.

This article was contributed by guest author Brooke Chaplan.

Image by Clicsouris, Wikimedia Commons

Image by Clicsouris, Wikimedia Commons

If you aren’t planning on working after college, feel free to disregard this article. On the other hand, if you’re not independently wealthy and have no desire to be a bum outside Barnes & Noble, then you need to make sure that you have both the hard and soft skills employers are looking for.

Admittedly, the skills gap is a complex issue, and that’s an understatement. With a variety of different factors, even experts disagree about how exactly to fix the problem. Some place the blame on inadequate school career centers, others on greedy businesses that are unwilling to invest in future employees, and still others point to the throngs of eighteen year olds enrolling in philosophy and music theory degrees. However, none of these factors are changing. Manufacturing industries identified the skills gap in 2001, but the crevice has only widened in 2016. Schools will neglect to inform students of all their options, businesses will always prefer to hire employees that they don’t have to train first, and students aren’t equipped to pick their own career path as teenagers.

So, where does that leave you? You’ve already taken the plunge and attended university, maybe for a less-than-relevant major. What can you do now to overcome this skills gap?

Have Demonstrable Soft Skills
A large part of the problem is a lack of “soft skills” like organization or interpersonal communication. And while you can certainly claim to have these in the interview, you likely won’t even get the interview unless you list an experience that displays these in some way. It’s not enough to say, “Well, I’m an English major, so I obviously know how to write.”

Instead, have tangible experience that you can use as an example. Ideally, this is some sort of internship, but not everyone has the time or the opportunity to pursue one during college. You can substitute volunteer work, extracurricular activities, or even a group project. If you don’t have anything noteworthy to use here, go get some experience! Volunteer for a non-profit in your area. Even if it’s just a bake sale for a local PTA, you can use it to showcase some valuable communication skills.

Include this relevant experience on your resume, and refer to it in your cover letters. Soft skills are difficult to test for, so there is a perception that they are less valuable. That is not the case, however; explaining a specific instance where you used some soft skills can lend you credibility.

Be Well-Rounded
While you might not be on the path to becoming a mechanical engineer or an electrician, you still need to have some hard skills. Take a science or math class as an elective. At the very least, be proficient with computers. Learning how to operate different software takes time, especially since programs are constantly updating, but it will give you an edge that other job-seekers won’t have. Additionally, learn the basics of coding and operating a search engine. These skills are easier than ever to pick up, but many neglect to do so, figuring they will never have to use them. This might be true, but having a knowledge base is a huge advantage when you have to adapt to a new technology on the job.

Being a quick learner is more important than knowing the intricacies of Program X 3.7, because Program X 4.0 will revolutionize your future industry in a few short months. If you are lacking certification in relevant fields or software, emphasize this point and be ready to back it up. Show that you have familiarity with the basics, at least, and are ready to learn more. This might require you to take a course on something common like spreadsheets or something specific like metallurgy. It’ll depend on the position, but the willingness and the ability to learn on the job should not be undervalued. Take time before an interview to think of a tangible example of this as well.

Do Your Research
This sounds obvious, but four out of every five college students graduate without a job lined up. Some of that is the job market, but many succumb to senioritis and think a few Craigslist searches at 2 am during finals week count as researching careers. Look into the job market well before you graduate and see what’s in demand. If there is an industry you would like to work in, contact a relevant company. Google might give you an idea of a general trend, but employers can zero in on the specifics. Ask what exact skills they look for in their employees. Know what qualities will make you a competitive candidate.

Additionally, learn what different qualifications you’ll need for various positions. You might find that the only real differences between two positions are a week-long certification and a significant pay raise. This is better to know sooner rather than later. It’ll be much more impressive when you apply for a job that you already have the necessary qualification for, instead of scrambling to acquire them before you’re hired.

While it might be tempting to blame the education system or employers for your predicament, this doesn’t solve the problem. Yes, you’re stuck in an awkward place where you’re being asked why you didn’t pursue a career that you didn’t even know existed, businesses are asking for two years experience for an entry-level job, and the job market isn’t that great to begin with. It’s not necessarily your fault, but it’s certainly your responsibility to overcome these hurdles. Especially with the ever-widening skills gap, jumping over these obstacles can be especially challenging, but far from impossible. You just need a running start.

This article was contributed by guest author Dayton.

Image by Shilad Sen, Flickr

Image by Shilad Sen, Flickr

You studied hard, did your work, participated in discussions, and earned good grades. This is self-promotion in terms of the college classroom. Self-promotion in the job market requires skills too, but they may not be so very different from those you’ve already mastered. Consider the following.

1. Know the field you want to enter
In university terms, this means assembling sources of information. Before sending in applications and setting up interviews, make a general survey of the businesses that interest you most. Consider their location, their structure, and the positions they offer. This information will give you confidence as you proceed.

2. Research your field by making direct contact with potential employers
If you were writing a paper for class, you’d start by gathering information. When preparing to promote yourself to a potential employer, you can ask those questions and seek more information even before sending in an application. Polite emails introducing yourself and asking intelligent questions form a first contact in the job-seeking process.

3. Review what you’ve learned and streamline your self-image
As you gather information about the jobs you want, consider how what you have to offer matches what potential employers are seeking. The overlapping features are those that you’ll most actively promote during the job search.

4. Develop a CV that reflects your intentions
Consider your current CV a “rough draft” for your next job interview. Using the information you’ve acquired through your research, prepare a final draft of the CV especially for this interview. The new CV will in turn be a rough draft for the next interview.

5. Prepare for the job interview
When writing papers for university, you were expected to develop a “thesis statement,” a position you were attempting to prove correct. Prepare for your job interview by creating a thesis statement about yourself and why you are a good fit for the job under consideration.

6. Be prepared to present yourself in a positive and objective way
You gave many class presentations at university. Good preparation and practice were the key. When you are called in for a job interview, access the same skills. Speak with confidence about material that you know very well: yourself and your abilities.

7. View your field from new angles
The job market is constantly changing, bringing new challenges and new opportunities. It may be that enhancing your abilities will help you meet those challenges more effectively. Consider enrolling in an MBA program online, for example, not only to add to your skill set but also to keep you up to date on the most recent developments in your field.

Self-promotion requires courage, commitment, patience, and practice, as well as self-knowledge and honesty. These qualities helped you during your college years, and will continue to do so as you emerge in the business world.

This article was contributed by guest author Lizzie Weakley.

Image by Farzad Nazifi, unsplash.com

Image by Farzad Nazifi, unsplash.com

As most people would readily concur, computers have become critical components of our everyday living. As such, they are widely acclaimed for providing an unparalleled level of convenience and efficiency in terms of undertaking a wide variety of tasks – both in our professional and personal lives. However, many individuals have yet to fully grasp even the most basic computing skills. This includes sending and receiving emails, internet browsing, basic computer security best practices, and the list goes on. Should you fall into this category, below are the top 5 computer skills everyone should master.

1. Keyboard shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts have been specifically put in place to enhance the overall computer usage experience. They allow computer users to accomplish numerous, essential computing tasks in a stress-free and time-efficient manner. You’re not required to memorize all the keyboard shortcuts, rather, only those which can be indispensable to various frequent tasks. This includes “Ctrl + C”, which initiates the copy function, “Ctrl + V” which triggers the paste function, and “Ctrl + X” for the cut function. The lesser-known “Ctrl + backspace” allows you to delete the whole previous word as opposed to just single characters.

2. Internet basics

Search engines are synonymous with the internet due to the many advantages they present. Hence, you will have to master the basics of advanced search, like identifying the various Boolean operators. This includes the connectors ‘+’, ‘AND’, ‘OR’ and even ‘NOT’. You will also need to learn how to identify mediocre resources at just a single glance.

At the same time, you will have to master how to utilize web browsers more efficiently in order to fully tap into the powerful potential of the internet. Some of the basic web browser skills you can master include opening links in new browser windows, using bookmarks, and clearing browser caches.

3. Computer security best practices

You don’t need to be a fully fledged IT expert to be able to comprehend the basics of protecting your PC and software from external attacks. This naturally includes knowing how to enable your PC’s firewall and also how to effectively use antivirus applications. Both of which can be able to offer some invaluable protection from viruses and malware that may try to take advantage of vulnerabilities in your system. You will also need to master how to formulate strong and secure passwords to prevent malicious individuals from gaining access to critical files or applications in your system.

4. Sending and receiving emails

Email has effectually replaced the conventional mailing system as the communication medium of choice for many individuals and even business organizations. As such, it is always an excellent idea to learn how to send and receive emails the right way, while taking advantage of the wide range of functionalities these applications come with. This includes mass mailing, URL insertion, and adding attachments.

5. Touch typing

Touch typing is a critical computer skill you should make an effort to master, even if you are not a professional typist. This particular skill lets you rely on your motor reflexes rather than your sight. It lets you place your concentration on your PC’s screen rather than the keyboard as with most other typing techniques.

As you proceed to master touch typing, you will eventually find that your typing speed and accuracy have greatly improved. This in turn will improve your overall efficiency and productivity in the various computing tasks you undertake, whether in your professional or personal pursuits.

Finally, learning touch typing will also impart you with typing best practices such as ideal posture and finger placement. This will assist you in avoiding injury, particularly when you are engaged in protracted typing sessions.

This article was contributed by guest author Adam Fort.

Image by USAJFKSWCS on Flickr

Image by USAJFKSWCS on Flickr

At a time when fresh questions about the value of a bachelor’s degree seem to come up daily, master’s degrees are growing more attractive. If you’re on the fence about going further in education, consider these ways a master’s degree can make you a more attractive job candidate.

It Shows You’re Committed to Excellence

Only about 10 percent of people in the United States hold a master’s degree in any field. Most professionals simply do not make the commitment to achieve one. Stepping into that category shows you have tenacity and a focus on growth that many others do not have.

It Signals You Have “Fresh” Skills

Master’s degrees don’t typically take as long to complete as bachelor’s degrees. In fact, many of these advanced degrees can be completed in about two years. Once you graduate, you will be able to bank on your cutting-edge view of your field as a compelling reason to hire you.

It Means You Won’t Switch Fields

If you get a master’s degree in the field you’re already practicing in, it shows you are not planning to change direction any time soon. For example, enrolling in a LL.M. program online shows that you are dedicated to the field of law. This tells potential employers you are low-risk, so they can invest more in training you and incorporating your skills into a team on the long term.

It Gives You Valuable Specialization

Master’s degrees tend to be highly specialized, giving you the knowledge you need to fill an important niche. For example, cyber-security is an increasingly indispensable niche skill in IT, but a truly deep view of the field requires a master’s degree. No matter the industry, these specialized roles tend to be vital and difficult to fill. That could make you a hot commodity.

It Creates a Leadership Trajectory

Candidates who have the potential to train and lead others are more attractive than those whose perspective is narrow. By obtaining a master’s degree, you not only gain skills and knowledge as a solo contributor, but also cultivate the perspective to enlighten others on your area of expertise.

Getting a master’s degree is one of the most powerful ways to upgrade your skills in a tough economy. Master’s degree graduates are eligible for some of the best jobs and easily find themselves on the preferred list when a master’s degree is not a strict requirement.

This article was contributed by guest author Anita Ginsburg.