3 things every employer wants now
There was a time in the not-so-distant past when a bachelor's degree, a firm handshake and can-do attitude were enough to land a newly minted college graduate his or her first job.
Sure, academic achievement and people skills still matter, but these days, employers are looking for something more: team members who are culturally competent. Companies, nonprofit organizations and government agencies recognize that the country is becoming more diverse and the world is increasingly interconnected. With new markets emerging across the globe and right here in the United States, converting prospects into customers requires an understanding of different cultures.These dynamics have created excellent opportunities for college graduates who possess the three things many hiring managers are seeking in applicants:
1. The ability to speak more than one language
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are currently more than 350 languages spoken in the country. In Los Angeles alone, there are at least 185 languages spoken at home – and 54 percent of the metro population age 5 or older speak a language other than English at home.
Employers know this, and they want to hire people who can help them effectively communicate with people whose primary language is not English. Businesses see dollar signs in these emerging and growing markets, while nonprofits and government agencies see opportunities to expand their services.
2. Cultural understanding
If you look at the U.S. Census Bureau's list of the 15 countries that most frequently trade with the U.S., you are likely to see a lot of familiar names – Canada, China, Mexico, Japan and Germany. Most of these countries have been doing business with U.S. organizations for decades and are incredibly important to the economy.
But it's the names that aren't on the list that are most exciting to U.S. businesses, including Indonesia, Poland, Columbia and Kenya.
These countries don't have long histories of trading with U.S. businesses, but they represent emerging markets that have caught the eye of innovative American organizations. To succeed, the companies know they need employees who understand the local culture and are able to build relationships, connect with the right people and navigate the cultural differences that can sometimes be barriers to doing business.
3. Diverse experience
Dr. Stephen Covey, author of the best-selling book "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People," once famously said that "strength lies in differences, not in similarities." Indeed, there is a lot of research to support this assertion. For example, a study conducted by Forbes found that having a diverse workforce is a key driver of innovation and growth. Other research from global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company made it clear that businesses with more diverse workforces perform better financially (35 percent better, in fact).
Many companies have taken these findings to heart and made concerted efforts to hire employees from different backgrounds. They don't want the members of their workforce to look, act and think exactly alike. Rather, they’re looking for people who speak different languages, have experience in other cultures and are savvy enough to use their cultural competence to come up with innovative and creative ideas.