Transitional Independent Living


6 Skills Young Adults Wish They Would Have Had Before Starting Their First Job

There are endless numbers of articles and blogs that are chock-full of motivational career advice, but few focus on the skills that are actually necessary before entering the workforce. For young adults who may be struggling to obtain their independence, facing an unforeseen issue and being unable to deal with it can be a major blow to their confidence that can affect both their job and their personal lives.

Before young adults enter the workforce, they should be equipped with a skill set that can help them through the daily challenges of “adulting,” so that they know how to avoid issues, or at least how to handle them when they arise.

Skill #1: Ability to Work with Others

Employers are looking for potential employees who can add to their existing team dynamic. Developing social skills and the ability to work with others is essential not only to help young people in the workplace, but also as they build and establish their social life for a lifestyle that balances work and play.

Interpersonal skills are key to acing a job interview and to navigating the unique “quirks” of each workplace. Knowing how to read people, self-advocate, make eye contact, and collaborate with coworkers are all necessary skills to finding and keeping a job.

Moreover, developing the skills to communicate and work with others is a great way to help establish a strong network of friends and loved ones that gives young people a strong support system outside of the workplace.

Skill #2: Organization and Time Management

Not only do the skills of time management and organization aid in completing work quickly and efficiently, they are also vital to cultivating a work-life balance that is essential for independence as a young adult. Being able to complete work assignments in a timely fashion is just as important to independence as paying the electric bill on time or managing a calendar that balances work with personal life.

Having the skills needed to prioritize, create and manage a to-do list are all useful traits to have in starting a new job, but they are also practical skills to use at home. At New Directions, we focus on developing independence in young adults within all aspects of their lives, not just their career.

Skill #3: Prior Experience and Training

More and more employers seem to be requiring prior experience as a prerequisite before even being considered for a job— sometimes even for entry-level positions, which may seem a bit strange. How is an entry-level worker supposed to already have experience? While it may seem counterintuitive that employers are looking to hire young people who are just entering the workforce to have prior experience, this is less daunting to achieve than it seems. Prior experience can take the form of volunteer work, internships, and additional classes or training in a specific field.

As part of each young adult’s individualized service plan, we help them find this additional experience. Some may think of it as providing “resumé builders,” but we see it as providing real-world experience for our young adults that helps to advance them towards their career paths.

Skill #4: Stress Management

Being able to identify and handle the stressors that one encounters in any workplace is an essential task for young people to have before they find their first job. As a working young adult, stress can come from anywhere, whether it be a heavy workload, finding a work-life balance, managing a long to-do list, or a desire for social support, and it is important to know how to cope with stress as it arises.

Uncontrolled stress can manifest itself in a wide array of mental and physical issues, which can affect work productivity and one’s personal life, putting relationships and careers in jeopardy. Developing the skills to handle stress is necessary to maintain work and healthy relationships.

Skill #5: Problem-Solving

Whether it be in the workplace or at home, adulthood can be a bumpy ride with challenges and problems along the way. Being able to identify a problem and assess possible options and solve the problem in the most ideal way is an important skill to have.

Not knowing how to handle a problem can cause undue stress, which can start to affect all aspects of one’s life. While there are countless resources available to learn to problem solve, it’s really important that young adults are able to do this before they actually face an issue in their career that must be solved.

Skill #6: How to Handle Finances

For some, it can be scary to open a bank account, pay taxes, set a budget, or build credit, but as young adults begin their careers,  handling money immediately becomes part of the equation. While financial literacy is something that should be part of every young person’s education, unfortunately, that doesn’t happen as often as it should.

We are here to help young people learn how to manage that first paycheck and handle the responsibility that comes along with it. Not much is more crippling for a young person than a financial setback, and we are here to show them how to avoid just that.

Does a young adult in your life need help cultivating these skills before they enter the workforce? New Directions for Young Adults has the expertise to assess each individual young person’s needs and help them develop the skills and the independence to take on the world of employment head on. Contact us today for more information on our transformative programs, and see how we can help ready the young adult in your life for a successful, lifelong career.

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