Career Planning: Liberal Arts Skills

What Do You Have to Offer?
Liberal skills have long been sought by employers of all types. Why? Fundamentally they've been proven to contribute to a basic goal -- finding solutions to problems in the most effective, effiicient, socially-conscious, and cost-effective manner -- most organizations have. Year after year employers look for new college graduates to bring on board. What are they looking for? Who gets hired?  According to research that the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) conducts annually, the following skills are generally agreed upon by employers to be most essential in new college graduates.

Ability to work in a team structure  Ability to verbally communicate with persons inside and outside the organization  -  Ability to make decisions and solcve problems  -  Ability to obtain and process information  - Ability to plan, organize, and prioritize work  -  Ability to analyze quantitative data  -  Technical knowledge related to the job  -  Proficiency with computer software programs  -  Ability to create and/or edit written reports   -  Ability to sell or influenece others

Do these not resemble what we've come to know as the transferable, functional, liberal arts skills?


Liberal Arts Skills as identified by The Learning Center, San Francisco, CA in Bridging the Gap, Learner's Guide to Career-Transferable Skills

Information Management Skills: ability to…
sort data and objects... compile and rank information... apply information creatively to specific problems or tasks... synthesize facts, concepts and principles... evaluate information against appropriate standards

Research and Investigative Skills: ability to…
use a variety of sources of information... apply a variety of methods to test the validity of data... identify problems and needs...design an experiment, plan or model that systematically defines a problem... identify information sources appropriate to special needs or problems... formulate questions relevant to clarifying a particular problem, topic or issue

Valuing Skills: ability to…
assess a course of action in terms of its long-range effects on the general human welfare... make decisions that will maximize both individual and collective good... appreciate the contributions of art,literature, science, and technology to contemporary society... identify one’s own values... assess one’s values in relation to important life decisions

Communication Skills: ability to…
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isten with objectivity and paraphrase the content of a message... use various forms and styles of written communication... speak effectively to individuals and groups... use media formats to present ideasimaginatively... express one’s needs, wants, opinions and preferences without offending the sensitivity of others... identify and communicate value judgments effectively... describe objects or events with a minimum of factual errors... convey a positive self-image to others

Critical Thinking Skills: ability to…  
identify quickly and accurately the critical issues when making a decision or solving a problem... identify a general principle that explains interrelated experiences or factual data... define the parameters of a problem... identify reasonable criteria for assessing the value or appropriateness of an action or behavior... adapt one’s concepts and behavior to changing conventions and norms... apply appropriate criteria to strategies and action plans... take given premises and reason to their conclusion... create innovative solutions to complex problems... analyze the interrelationships of events and ideas from several perspectives

Design and Planning Skills: ability to . . .
identify alternative courses of action... set realistic goals... follow through with a plan or decision... manage time effectively... predict future trends and patterns... accommodate multiple demands for commitment of time, energy and resources... assess needs... make and keep a schedule... set priorities

Management and Administrative Skills: ability to. . .
analyze tasks... identify people who can contribute to the solution of a problem or task... identify resource materials useful in the solution of a problem... delegate responsibility for completion of a task... motivate and lead people... organize people and tasks to achieve specific goals

Human Relations and Interpersonal Skills: ability to. . .
keep a group “on track” and moving toward the achievement of a common goal... maintain group cooperation and support... delegate tasks and responsibilities... interact effectively with peers, superiors and subordinates... express one’s feelings appropriately... understand the feelings of others... use argumentation techniques to persuade others... make commitments to persons... be willing to take risks... teach a skill, concept or principle to others... analyze behavior or self and others in group situations... demonstrate effective social behavior in a variety of settings and under different circumstances... work under time and environmental pressure

Personal/Career Development Skills: ability to. . .
analyze, and learn from life experiences – both one’s own and others... relate the skills developed in one environment (e.g., school) to the requirements of another environment (e.g., work)... match knowledge about one’s own characteristics and abilities to information about job or career opportunities... identify, describe and assess the relative importance of one’s needs, values, interests, strengths and weaknesses... develop personal growth goals that are motivating... identify and describe skills acquired through formal education and general life experience... identify one’s own strengths and weaknesses... accept and learn from negative criticism... persist with a project when faced with failure unless it is clear that the project cannot be carried out or is not worth the time or effort needed to complete it... recognize when a project cannot be carried out or is not worth the time or effort required to complete it... generate trust and confidence in others... take risks... accept the consequences of one’s actions... “market” oneself to prospective employers