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Why this CEO says new grads should ditch social media to get ahead at work: 'Find somebody to talk to you in the flesh'

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Once upon a time, having a college degree was enough to get a well-paying job. Today, however, a college degree is only a small piece of what's usually needed to land a job in the field you want.

The current market puts job seekers at an advantage, as increased openings allow applicants to vie for more benefits, higher salaries and more PTO. However, recent graduates still struggle to get hired, with an elevated unemployment rate of 4.1%, compared to the national average of 3.5% in June during peak graduation season, MSNBC reports.

According to Indeed, new graduates struggle to get hired after college due to high competition, inadequate work experience and little networking.

Here are three ways young professionals can stand out, according to Lisa Lewin, CEO of education company General Assembly.

1. Show off your technical skills

Being tech-savvy is an essential skill for students and recent grads. And there's a lot of potential to make a career of it.

The tech industry contributes more than $1.8 trillion to the U.S. economy according to CompTIA, the nonprofit association for the information technology workforce. They estimate that by the end of 2022, 178,000 new tech jobs will have opened in 48 states.

Whether you gained technical IT skills in college or not, you can learn them through online resources, boot camps, and education organizations like General Assembly. According to Lewin, these skills include software engineering, data analytics, data engineering, data science, digital marketing skills and digital product management.

And technical skills don't "just apply to IT-based roles," Lewin says. "They include whatever hard skills you've obtained through education and practice, and young professionals should remember to highlight them in their job application materials."

This can include skills such as writing, Lewin says. "Writing is a hard skill. That is a muscle that has to be developed, and there is a science to doing it well, doing it fast and doing it in an agile way. That is technical skill."

2. Always be willing to learn

There's a popular quote that goes: "If you're the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room." This advice holds true no matter your career or level of experience.

"You've got to always be willing [to learn] because the demands for up-to-date hard and soft skills are always there," Lewin says. "No matter how far along in your career you get, you've always got to be in a learning posture ... you've always got to be willing to continually update those skills."

Critical thinking, problem solving, synthesizing and data insights are all examples of skills that professionals, especially in their early careers, should constantly be brushing up on, Lewin says. This can be done by taking advantage of online training courses, videos and webinars.

3. Ditch social media

Thirty-five percent of teens ages 13 to 17 say they're on social media sites like Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat and YouTube "almost constantly," according to a recent report from Pew Research Center. But networking and forming genuine connections in real life are key components in career success.

This increased screen time can result in a lack of in-person social skills, Lewin says.

To combat this, Lewin recommends that young people spend less time on their phones and more time connecting in person, which boosts emotional and social intelligence.

"Whatever field you're in, the ability to connect with people, to empathize, to listen, to be kind and to be human is probably the most powerful skill that someone can have," Lewin says. "So put down the phone screens. Our virtual connections have multiplied, and our human connections have deteriorated."

"If anyone wants to really hone their EQ skills, find somebody to talk to you in the flesh," she adds. "That's a good place to start."

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This artist's side hustle brings in up to $267K per year
This artist's side hustle brings in up to $267K per year