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Stevie L. Honaker - 10 Things Employers Want You to Learn in College: The Know-how You Need to Succeed (review) - Journal of College Student Development 46:3 Journal of College Student Development 46.3 (2005) 333-334

10 Things Employers Want You to Learn in College: The Know-how You Need to Succeed. Bill Coplin. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press, 2003, 272 pages, $14.95 (softcover)

This book is targeted at high school and college students, as well as professionals in the career development field, who require in-depth and reliable information regarding what specific work-related skills students need to learn during their years as college students in order to gain successful employment after graduation.

The book's first ten chapters deal with work-related skills, based on current surveys from employers, which consistently name the top preferred skills new-hires need to be successful in their job searches and once they are hired. Individual chapters are devoted to each of the top ten skills employers want, along with related details entailed in each of those ten skill sets. The basic skills identified by employers are a) establishing a work ethic, b) developing physical skills, c) communicating verbally, d) communicating in writing, e) working directly with people, f) influencing people, g) gathering information, h) using quantitative tools, i) asking and answering the right questions, and j) solving problems.

The remaining nine chapters in the book cover tips on how to a) improve on these skill sets within a college environment, b) choose college courses wisely, c) develop apprenticeships in order to gain work world experience, d) develop into a well-rounded job candidate, and e) tips on choosing a graduate school, job search strategies, resumes, cover letters, and the all-intimidating process of interviewing.

The author's goal for the book was to "show [students] how to use [their] courses to build [their] skills" (p. 4) and "help [students] . . . identify and develop the skills necessary for a successful career" (p. 6). Colin quotes the United States Census Bureau to bring home his point on page one: "Over their work life, college graduates earn an average of $2.1 million dollars compared with $1.2 million dollars for high school graduates," yet he goes on to point out that employment for college graduates continues to be a problem, with "60% of college graduates plan[ning] to live with their parents after graduation" (p. 4).

Although there are other books addressing the issues of being a work-focused college student or succeeding in the workplace after graduation, Colin's work seems to be the first book to combine these issues and provide concrete advice on how to gain and develop specific skills beginning in high school or as a college first-year student in order to have job offers at graduation and be successful in a first full-time professional position.


Audience usability is generally an important issue in developing a "how to" book of this kind. First, the book presents a great deal of information in an organized and an easy-to-understand format. Second, the book is cost effective at $14.95. Finally, especially for guidance counselors, it contains an easy-to-use compilation of relevant information concerning work-related skills from a variety of standard sources.

Additionally, parents could learn from employer survey information and be more supportive and helpful in their students' employability development. This book could also provide families with better information to discuss skill sets, job searching skills, and ultimately, how to have a successful career [End Page 333] beginning.

10 Things Employers Want You to Learn in College is an intelligent and efficient tool to augment the work of career and school guidance professionals. This book will also make an impact earlier in the life of college-bound students by encouraging thought on how college applies to and prepares them for the world of work, as well as greatly improves their subsequent launch into and ultimate success in the work world as newly minted professionals.

University of Florida

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