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Money Minute: 5 things employers are really looking for

It’s graduation season and that means millions of college grads are on the hunt for a great job. I tell you what skills employers really want in this week’s Money Minute.

Internships and job experience. Forget your GPA -- job experience is the single most important thing employers are looking for, according to a study by the Chronicle of Higher Education. For college students that means internships or any jobs you held while in school. It not only shows them you’re serious about your work but you are already accustomed to an office environment.

College major. Your college major is also super important, especially if you're going for a specialized field like health care or technology. But for the rest of us, not mentioning it on your resume isn't always a deal breaker. If you find yourself applying for jobs that don’t line up with what you studied in school, try to steer the conversation toward any jobs or internship experiences that might impress an employer instead. If that’s not enough to move the needle in your favor, it might be time to start thinking about either going back to school or looking for an internship or apprenticeship that will give you the experience you need to wow them.

Volunteer work. Do-gooders have an edge in job interviews. Employers love hearing about volunteer work, especially if it relates to your field. It not only gives you something interesting to talk about, but it shows that you’re a team player.

Clubs and activities. If volunteering wasn’t your thing, talk about the clubs or activities you’re passionate about. Managers and recruiters want to see that you’re willing to be part of a group and work with others.

Course relevancy. And last but not least, employers care about how relevant your coursework is to the position you’re going after. Don’t get this confused with degree or major — coursework means focusing on the types of lessons you took in school and any specialized skills you gained in the process. For example, did the courses you took for computer software teach you how to build apps, code, secure firewalls, or prevent hacking specifically? Did your culinary program focus on French cuisine or molecular gastronomy? Employers want to know.

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