Skill by plenty
Interpersonal skills, confidence, creativity and the ability to diversify have been rated as the most important traits when hiring young candidates. It’s pretty clear that employers are no longer just looking for a degree, so what does a graduate need to do now?
An emerging gap between education and skills was recently highlighted by some 80 employers, which included the likes of Sage, RBS, Citi Group and Tate Steel, calling for employ ability and enterprise to be introduced in the education system.
“Employers look for a wide variety of skills and abilities – they generally don’t look for a particular degree, rather they look for verbal, written and presentation skills, time management and customer service skills,” said Deputy CEO of Financial Skills Partnership Sarah Thwaites.
Graduates must be aware that as well as their degree they need to develop a strong skills set, which are in many cases, found outside the classroom. Importantly, Angela Davies from the Career and Employability Centre for Aston University said: “It is not enough to say ‘teamwork is my strong point’, recruiters are looking at ways in which you can illustrate this to them. At the end of the day, your skills are what make you a desirable candidate for any organisation.”
So how can a graduate develop the skills employers are looking for? Sarah added: “Internships are a good way of getting some work experience – it gives graduates the opportunity to access a wide group of people.”
Similarly, Carl Pillared, chief executive of the Association of Graduate Recruiters, said: “Consider any type of work, including temping and part-time work, reflect on what skills you might lack and explore ways of gaining these skills.” On an individual level, Sarah added: “Do things outside of your degree course – things like Duke of Edinburgh, local work, charity work or even volunteering.
You need to get the relationships with other people to build the various competencies in verbal, written and communication skills.” For people who have been in a band, Angela said: “Think about negotiating a local cheap rehearsal room, organising regular practice sessions or marketing your first gig.”
Getting involved in university societies is a great way of gaining experience, too. Abigail Crocker, now a journalist, joined her university radio society at Royal Holloway and found the experience invaluable when it came to interviews.
“Working for the university radio station helped my communication skills – I learned how to work in a team, it built my confidence because I had to broadcast live and it gave me an insight into office politics – the inevitability of wherever you work! I can safely say my radio experience developed my commercial skills so much more than had I just done my degree.”
The main thing is “keep engaged and constantly reflect on what you have gained from any experience you undertake,” added Carl. “That reflection is vital if you are to convince an employer that you should get the job rather than someone else.”
Where to begin?
Undecided about what to do next after university? Don't panic GradJobs will help you! It is important to remember that you are not alone – there are many who don’t have any idea what to do after graduating.If you are unsure which career is right for you, or simply not sure where to start on your job hunt, then head to the Advice Clinic at the National Graduate...
You’ve made it through the first round and you’ve got an interview! Yet, it’s nerve-wracking going into a room and getting grilled to prove how you are the best candidate for the role. To create the right impression and make a positive impact at interview stage, there are a number of things you must take into consideration and prepare for...
Applying for a Job
From the perfect CV to cover letters, online applications, recruitment agencies, psychometric testing, job AND assessment centres, applying for a job can sometimes seem a little daunting, and that’s before you’ve even secured an interview! Follow our step-by-step guides and handy tips from industry professionals to make you stand out from your...
How the National Graduate Recruitment Exhibition can aid your job hunt
For many graduates, looking for their first job can be a daunting and unsettling process – not only are you moving away from university and the community that you have built but you are also having to take that first step into the working world...
Career advice videos
Online aptitudes tests
Are you prepared to tackle the intense recruitment process ahead of you? Get a head start on your peers by taking a psychometric aptitude test! Get full access and learn how to increase your chances of passing the tests successfully.
Take an aptitude test today >>