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"The Book on Business"
March 2004
by the Business Librarians at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

Previous Issues

LC1037.5.C68 2003
10 Things Employers Want You to Learn in College: The Know-How You Need to Succeed

by Bill Coplin. Ten Speed Press, 2003

It's sad but true in our current economy, it's very difficult for new graduates to find meaningful employment. You want to use the academic expertise that took four years and a considerable sum of money to acquire. Your goal is to graduate with a high grade point average so you'll be a desirable job candidate. But are grades alone enough to make you stand out from the competition when you begin the interviewing process?

The answer is NO, according to author Bill Coplin, a professor and student advisor at Syracuse University. The students, recruiters, employers, and successful alumni he has worked with make it clear that while grades certainly matter, they aren't necessarily the most important thing employers are looking for because they don't reflect the wide range of skills that are necessary in today's workplace.

Mr. Coplin realized that students who had mastered certain skill sets outside the classroom were more likely to achieve future success. The Ten Things Employers Want You to Learn in College synthesizes these essential skills into 'Know-How Groups'. The ten broad categories include establishing a work ethic; developing physical skills; communicating verbally; communicating in writing; working directly with people; influencing people; gathering information; using quantitative tools; asking and answering the right questions; and solving problems.

This book provides a practical blueprint for developing proficiency in each of the Know-How Skill areas while you are in college. Courses and non-course activities are suggested, along with the minimum skill level you should achieve by the time you graduate. Many sections conclude with a list of useful print and online resources. For example, you should be able to speak in front of a group without suffering from extreme stage fright. Take a speech communications course that focuses on presenting to groups. Join organizations that require you to speak in front of others. Make a point of developing the interpersonal skills that you'll need during your job interviews and in every job you take. Volunteer to work for a political candidate, get a job in the alumni office cold calling for donations, or get a job in your college library. The main thing is to seek out possibilities for demonstrating initiative and a strong work ethic that will serve you well throughout your professional career.

If you can design a web page, put together a PowerPoint presentation, create a spreadsheet, and know some of the more advanced software programs such as PageMaker and Access, you'll be invaluable to potential employers. Take courses and jobs that require you to sharpen your research and Internet searching skills. Learn how to collect and analyze data and develop effective problem-solving strategies. Discover techniques for managing your time and your money well, because discipline in these areas is vital to getting and keeping a job.

Many first-time job seekers are passed over in the hiring process in favor of other candidates who may be less qualified but are able to write and speak effectively and have the ability to think quickly on their feet. If you follow the good advice proffered in 10 Things Employers Want You to Learn in College, you will be positioned far ahead of your classmates as you begin the search for a promising career. Both college students and their tuition-paying parents will be glad they took this course.

HG179.C6513 2003
You've Lost It, Now What? How to Beat the Bear Market and Still Retire on Time

by Jonathan Clements. Portfolio, 2003.

Yes, the Dow is heading back up again, and it seems that investors may get another chance to build up their retirement funds. But having been badly burned in the last few years, many are wary of making the same mistakes. And amidst continual news of wars, terrorists, ballooning deficits, lost jobs, and general unrest, the market is poised to head south again at any time. What's a sensible investor to do?

Enter Jonathan Clements that sane, prudent, and down-to-earth voice which has been offering wisdom from the pages of the Wall Street Journal for the last 10 years. In his latest book, he outlines a clear and straightforward plan for anyone who is willing to spend a few hours a month on one of the most important tasks in life: providing for one's livelihood into old age. As the characteristically blunt title of this book implies, even if you are dealing with major financial setbacks and your retirement date is in sight, there is still hope.

Clements breaks down the investing process into a handful of simple principles and practices that are eminently sensible and easily manageable. Some deal with attitude: "Keep it simple," and "Stop making big, stupid bonehead bets." He boils down the vast sea of investment possibilities to a small pool of its best and most reliable offerings, and is simply in love with index funds - "the investor's best friend and Wall Street's worst nightmare." By the end of this short and easily digested volume, you should be able to construct an investment plan so simple and straightforward that you can write it on a piece of paper and stick it on your refrigerator which is exactly what the author urges you to do.

This book is not only short and sweet; it is also fun to read, something rare in investment literature. The characterization of the Wall Street establishment as "the great con man," propped up by its "loyal sidekick," the media, is particularly entertaining, and also highly believable from this emissary from Wall Street's principal publication.

One swindle promoted on the Street is the notion that complex investment vehicles, costly actively managed funds, and high-priced financial advisers are your best chance for sizeable returns and a secure future. Carefully and clearly, Clements shows that this is self-serving nonsense. With irrefutable logic he also debunks "the greatest of investment fantasies: you can beat the stock market."

Another myth set straight is that of the home as a high-earning investment, and that fixing it up will pay off handsomely. Over the years, the dollars and cents of closing costs, maintenance expenses, property taxes, mortgage interest, etc. are clearly shown to offset most of the appreciation that even a seller's market will yield. So don't think that the new bathroom will pay off (except for that incalculable dividend provided by enjoyment you get from those soaks in the new tub.)

The media likes to present the world of investing as a baffling and complex maelstrom. In eschewing that view, Clements doesn't talk down to the reader; he just wants to prove that "sensible investing is so darn simple and so darn boring. This stuff is not rocket science." Reading this is like getting a free session (if you have borrowed this book from your library) with a seasoned, down-to-earth investment coach, who criticizes, cajoles and ultimately teaches you how to get out there and win.

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Also recommended are:

HD9993.G354 P376 2004
The Game Makers: The Story of Parker Brothers from Tiddledy Winks to Trivial Pursuit

by Philip E. Orbanes. Harvard Business School Press, 2004.

HF5657.4.W4 2004
Accounting for Managers

by William H. Webster. McGraw Hill, 2004.

Contact the business librarians, who also answer questions about business, money, and work, at (412) 281-7141 or at

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