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What Skills Should New Graduates Have?

graduation . / Credit: College Graduation Image via Shutterstock

Some of the most useful skills recent graduates will need when they find their first will be ones they never learned in the classroom. 

New research has found that many employers list nontraditional job skills as the most important factor recent graduates need after landing a job. Chief among those skills is the ability to learn quickly. Overall, 84 percent of small business owners in a recent poll say the ability to learn quickly is the most important trait a recent graduate can possess.

Graduates can also help their cause by being open to change in their jobs.  Seventy-six percent of respondents say they would hire workers who are willing to wear multiple hats and work beyond normal business hours.

[50+ Job Skills You Should List on Your Resume]

Employers also say that having social media expertise can help recent graduates find a job. 

The researchers also found that many small business owners view their size as a big benefit to candidates. Seventy-eight percent of small business owners say taking a job at a smaller company allows workers to avoid being lost in the shuffle. Additionally, 64 percent of respondents say working at smaller companies allows workers the ability to develop business skills more quickly and the opportunity to work across business functions.

Business owners also say smaller ventures allow workers more access to high-level executive positions. Twenty-nine percent add that workers have a better opportunity to advance up the corporate ladder in smaller companies.

One of the small business owners who knows about those benefits is serial entrepreneur and National Football League Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton, who partnered with Office Depot to create Small Biz Club.  That site is an online community providing expert resources to small business owners.   Tarkenton said the marriage of new graduates and small businesses can be beneficial for both sides.

"To stay competitive in today's market, small businesses need to constantly reinvent themselves and incorporate new and improved ways to drive profitability," Tarkenton said. "By hiring new grads who can learn very quickly, small- and medium-sized businesses develop the bandwidth and bench strength to stay nimble and take advantage of opportunities when they arise."

The research was conducted by Office Depot for the Office Depot Small Business Index.