It’s important to recognize that continuing our learning is not a sign of weakness or inability to stay on top; in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Making a proactive move to learn where your industry is going, or to explore new and emerging technologies that may affect your job, is a sign of awareness and strategic thinking. We are moving to a new reality in which ongoing and continuous learning is not just a nice-to-have, but a requirement to stay relevant. Education institutions are growing in number because there is a demand and a deep interest in feeling prepared for the future.

Q: What unique skills does Quizlet look for when hiring new graduates?

A: More than having a specific skillset, Quizlet is always looking for candidates who are genuinely passionate about our company’s mission to help people practice and master whatever they want to learn. We value a wide array of different skills, from data analysis and coding to communication and problem-solving. We also look for people who share our values, which are softer skills like acting with urgency and being humble, candid, and open. What we’ve seen is that being successful in today’s workplace is less about one specific technology expertise and more about being open to learning and adapting.

We believe that everyone on our team has something unique to offer, and their different skillsets complement each other. In fact, we host hackathons at which every department comes together, from our designers and engineers to marketing and people ops, to brainstorm the next big idea. Some of our most successful features have stemmed from hackathons—including Quizlet Live (a collaborative learning game), Quizlet Flashcard Themes, and the OCR scan feature, which makes it easy to create study sets from printed worksheets.

Q: How have hiring expectations evolved, especially with the availability of edtech and a changing higher-ed landscape?

A: Non-traditional students are a growing demographic—from older professionals seeking a new career to parents looking to re-enter the workforce, to millennials working full-time and fitting in classes at night and on the weekends. Diversity in course options and the advent of edtech tools, especially consumer-learning platforms that help augment studying and learning beyond class time, are democratizing access to education. This evolution to help every person who wants to be a student succeed is opening up a larger pool of qualified applicants to the job market and is changing what companies look for in prospective candidates.

Related: Massive initiative targets college to career transition

A traditional college diploma used to be the item that got you the job. But in today’s increasingly digital world, resumes with certifications, specific online courses, micro-degrees and even social-media experience are catching the eye of hiring managers. The most competitive candidates will be consummate learners. People who can show that they understand today’s landscape but are actively learning new skills and subject matter will be a step ahead. And let’s not forget, because hard skills and soft skills create a well-rounded candidate, self-driven learning projects and side hustles can be signs of a great candidate too.

How can higher-ed better prepare students to enter the workforce?

Q: What advice would you give soon-to-be college graduates looking for their first full-time job?

A: Keep learning. Learning doesn’t stop when you receive a diploma. Job seekers who embrace this ethos will be miles ahead when looking for their next role.

When you’ve landed a job interview, be prepared to talk authentically about your capabilities, giving concrete examples of both hard and soft skills. Emphasize how you’ve learned throughout college, or how you’ve invested in education through online courses, micro-certifications, and bootcamps. That will show a potential employer that you’re adapting to the changing needs of an “always learning” workplace culture.

Also, don’t discount your life experience. I have hired employees that are very talented at things like software engineering, finance, and marketing, but also do things like volunteer as an emergency medical technician, teach baseball or yoga, or make furniture as their passion—all real examples. Teaching yourself something new and being a team player will always be an asset for any company.

About the Author:

Ellen Ullman is editorial director of eSchool Media.

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