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How to Teach Job Preparation Skills

by Al Stewart

Proper training and education are crucial for those eager to start -- or restart -- a career. Teaching job preparation skills extends beyond instructing someone on how to find and apply for a job. It involves developing the basic skill set employers seek and providing fundamental knowledge of what's expected in any work environment, whether it is an office or a warehouse setting. Teach students about the soft skills needed to conduct themselves in a professional environment. Offer tips for interacting with co-workers and managers. Stress the importance of a positive attitude, a strong work ethic and attention to detail as part of the instruction.

Begin with an overview of the workplace and the attributes that help someone land a job. Identify skills that are needed regardless of someone's level of education, such as how to impress potential employers during the interview process. Use role-playing scenarios to help students sharpen their interviewing and communication skills. Focus on developing a professional attitude that is apparent from the first contact with an employer and remains consistent throughout the course of the employment.

Help students make a realistic assessment of their math, language and computer skills. Use exercises that involve writing business correspondence and comprehending written instructions. Include hands-on demonstrations of word processing programs, email programs and other widely-used computer applications. Test students for basic math skills in an effort to identify areas in which improvement is required. Suggest additional education resources or classes in specific subjects for those who struggle.

Discuss in detail the importance of soft skills in the workplace, including enthusiasm, problem solving, punctuality and an eagerness to learn. Explore the role of a strong work ethic and what it means to be a conscientious employee who works well under pressure. Focus on time management, multitasking and the importance of meeting deadlines. Ask students to collaborate on a project to demonstrate the importance of teamwork and flexibility. Explain what it means to be coachable and how to handle criticism.

Instruct students on ways to identify a potential employer and how to prepare for a job interview. In addition to resume and cover letter writing, emphasize the need to research the employer and anticipate interview questions. Teach students the importance of a professional appearance and how to make a polished presentation of their skills and attributes. Discuss techniques that enable them to highlight their individual accomplishments and marketable skills in writing and in person.

Track the progress being made through the use of classroom discussions that explore job skills. Have each student explain what is required to excel in a job search and in the workplace. Ask them how their skills have been enhanced. Challenge them to identify the areas where they need to focus their efforts. Use positive feedback when assessing their performance while reminding them that supervisors in a professional environment might not be as nurturing.

About the Author

Al Stewart's 30-year background as a writer/editor includes staff positions at "Adweek," "Billboard," "Chain Drug Review," "Cable World," "DNR" (men's fashion), "National Floor Trends," and "Variety." A native New Yorker, he is now a writer/editor living in Los Angeles. He has a BA in political science from Wagner College.

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