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9 New Skills That Could Make You More Attractive to Employers

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When you get to the bottom of your resume, you don’t want to have to list “word processing” as your only skill. And while you could call yourself a “great communicator” and “detail oriented,” that kind of fluff won’t help you stand out from the pack. Here are nine skills that will actually help you buff up your CV for potential employers:

1. FOREIGN LANGUAGE FLUENCY

It may sound simple, but what’s the best way to get sent abroad to the company’s offices in Amsterdam or Beijing? Speak the language. And even if your business is completely local, your years-long dedication to learning Mandarin or Arabic or Finnish can only serve as a concrete example of your work ethic and curiosity about the world.

2. SOCIAL MEDIA PROWESS

Nearly every company these days has some sort of social media presence, whether it’s an airline or a snack-food producer or a self-storage company. While larger corporations have entire teams devoted to their social media presence, a small company might want to put you to work manning their accounts in addition to other job duties—so make sure you know your way around the most popular platforms for your industry.

If nothing else, remember that a less-than-slick social media presence can actively ruin your job search. A 2014 corporate survey found that more than half of employers reevaluated job candidates after seeing something they posted on social media, such as inappropriate photographs.

3. PROGRAMMING KNOW-HOW

Computer programming is one of the hottest skills on the job market right now, and the median annual salary for a programmer is more than $77,000. Even if you don’t want to write software, a working knowledge of code can give you a leg up. Aside from the logic practice it gives you, it’s useful for jobs in project management, design, and more.

4. DATA ANALYSIS 

“Big Data” is the buzzword of the 21st century. While companies may love having mountains of data on their clients, market preferences, and more, someone has to go through and analyze all those numbers for the CEO. Knowing how to crunch numbers, interpret statistics, and visualize the results is a marketable skill. Time to dive back into that stats book from college.

5. PHOTO EDITING

To the uninitiated, photo-editing software can be a labyrinth of inscrutable buttons and functions. And yet every business still needs flashy, professional-looking photos with all the undesirable elements buffed out. Learn your way around one of the popular photo editors, and be the first person on hand when your boss wants his portrait on the company website to have whiter teeth.

6. PROBLEM SOLVING

Every employer wants to hire a problem solver—someone who doesn’t need their hand held on a difficult project and who can come up with new solutions to the company’s challenges. Luckily, it’s not so hard to sharpen your problem-solving skills. Just pick up the crossword or a brainteaser to get in the right frame of mind. When you’re faced with a problem, try using the “IDEAL” method: Identify the problem; Define the problem; Examine the options; Act on a plan; and Look at the consequences.

7. PUBLIC SPEAKING

Plenty of people get nervous talking in front of a group, so a gift for public speaking is a valuable career asset. Not only will it help you nail an interview, but being a confident, engaging speaker will also help you effectively pitch your ideas and projects to higher-ups once you start the job. If the idea of giving an actual speech bores or terrifies you, sign up for an improv class, which can give you some fun practice at being in the limelight (and thinking on your feet).

8. WRITING EXPERTISE

The first thing any employer sees of you is your writing, on your resume and cover letter. A job candidate who can express herself clearly will appear much more professional than one who confuses “its” and “it’s,” even if the job isn’t necessarily focused on writing. And you’d be hard-pressed to find a job that doesn’t involve writing in some capacity, even if it’s just emails to clients. There are plenty of resources online to help students brush up on their grammar and diction before tests. In your case, the test just happens to be a job application.

9. DIVING

It may seem like a random skill to learn, but if you want to jump into a booming field, it may be time to strap on an air tank and take some diving lessons. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that commercial diving is one of the country’s fastest-growing occupations, with the sector expanding by 37 percent in the decade leading to 2024.

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Interactive Chart Tells You How Long It Takes to Get Frostbite
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For many people, winter means dry skin and high heating bills. But if you find yourself outdoors in the right conditions, it can also mean frostbite. Frostbite occurs when the skin and the tissue beneath it freezes, causing pain, loss of sensation, or worse. It's easier to contract than you may think, even if you don't live in the Siberian tundra. To see if frostbite poses a threat where you live, check out this chart spotted by Digg.

The chart, developed by Pooja Gandhi and Adam Crahen using National Weather Service data, looks at three factors: wind speed, air temperature, and time spent outdoors. You can hover your cursor over data-points on the table to see how long you'd need to be exposed to certain wind chills for your skin tissue to freeze. If the wind chill is -22°F, for example (10°F air temperature with 5 mph winds), it would take 31 minutes of being outside before frostbite sets in. You can also look at the time scale above the chart to calculate it a different way. If you bring your cursor to the 40-minute mark, a window will tell that frostbite becomes a risk after exposure to -17°F wind chill for that amount of time. You can play with the interactive table at Tableau Public.

Chart of cold weather conditions.
Adam Crahen, Pooja Gandhi

If you can't avoid being outside in extreme wind and cold, there are a few steps you can take to keep your skin protected. Wear lots of layers, including multiple socks, and wrap your face with a scarf or face mask before venturing into the cold. Also, remember to stay hydrated. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, drinking at least one glass of water before going outside decreases your risk of contracting frostbite.

[h/t Digg]

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Flurry Road: 5 Tips for Safe Driving on Winter Roads
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For drivers in the Upper Midwest, traveling during the winter can range from slightly unsettling to deadly. Between 2011 and 2015, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Auto Insurance Center, an average of 800 fatalities occurred annually as a result of weather-related accidents. Icy roads, poor visibility, and other factors can make cold-weather commuting a dicey proposition.

While we can’t control the weather (yet), we can increase our odds of navigating slush-filled roadways successfully. Mental Floss spoke with American Automobile Association (AAA) driving education expert William Van Tassel, Ph.D., for some key tips on how to get your winter driving in gear.

1. GATHER SUPPLIES.

Before you even start your car up for a trip through inclement weather, Van Tassel recommends you pack a worst-case scenario trunk full of supplies. “In case of emergency, you want things on board like water, a blanket, a flashlight, gloves, and kitty litter,” he says. (That last one is for traction in case you get stuck in a snowbank.) You should also have road flares, a shovel, an ice scraper, and a fully-charged cell phone to call for assistance if needed.

2. SLOW DOWN.

Posted speed limit signs assume you’re driving on clear and clean roadways. If snow or ice has accumulated, you need to adjust your speed accordingly. “In slick conditions, tires lose a lot of traction,” Van Tassel says. “You should be cutting your speed down by half or more.” Unfortunately, a lot of people learn this the hard way. “After a snowstorm, we’ll see more crashes on day one than days two or three.”

Van Tassel also cautions to avoid becoming overconfident on snow tires. While they provide better traction in bad weather, it’s not license to speed up.

3. MAINTAIN A SAFE DISTANCE FROM OTHER CARS.

You should be doing this regardless, but bad weather makes it even more crucial. Keep your vehicle at a safe distance from cars behind, in front, and off to the sides, as well as away from pedestrians or cyclists. If you need to brake suddenly, you need time—and space—to avoid a collision. “You really want more space in front,” Van Tassel says. Try to stay between seven and 10 seconds behind the vehicle ahead. That means seeing a landmark and then counting down until you pass the same marker. If you’re only a few seconds behind, you’re too close.

4. DON’T STEER INTO SKIDS.

“That was an old rule of thumb,” Van Tassel says. “The problem is, by the time I remember to steer into a skid, I’m already in a ditch.” If you feel your vehicle sliding, it’s better to steer in the direction you want to go. “You’ll drive where you look, so don’t look at a telephone pole.”

To help maintain control of the car, you want to focus on doing one thing at a time. “If you’re going through a turn, brake, finish braking, then turn. Don’t brake and turn at the same time.”

5. KEEP YOUR HEADLIGHTS ON.

Yep, even in broad daylight. Bad weather limits visibility, and headlights allow both you and your fellow drivers to orient a vehicle. “You’re twice as visible to other drivers that way,” Van Tassel says. “When people can see you, they can avoid you.”

Van Tassel also recommends that drivers avoid relying on fancy car technology to keep them safe. While blind spot monitoring and lane changing sensors are useful, they’re not there so you can zone out. “The tech is there to back you up if you need it. Drive the car, but don’t rely on those things,” he says.

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