10 Skills Every Graduate Needs to Land a Good Job: Part 1

The CBI lists ten ‘core skills’ that a graduate needs to land a graduate level job. Secure them and you will have the job clout needed to compete with the 73 other grads after the position you want. That’s the average number of graduates who compete for a single job, although if you’re after a position in retail or investment banking the figure rises to 154 and 142 respectively.

While a good degree plays a role in helping you to secure a good job, 52% of employers say graduates are not work ready without soft skills such as initiative, business awareness, critical thinking and resilience.

These skills can only be acquired by working inside an organisation and essentially learning the art of working with other people. They also take time to acquire and the way to acquire them is not by working part time in a bar or shop doing essentially menial manual labour: you need to either do something substantive involving lots of others within university or by engaging in the workplace where you get to do something of significance.

There are two reasons why you can’t afford to wait until graduation to start acquiring these skills. The first is because you can’t get a job without this work experience. The second is because these skills take time to acquire. You need to prepare yourself for the working world before you graduate by building the 10 skills you need to get a good graduate job now.

10 key skills employers look for in work experience
Students who are serious about getting a good job post graduation need to approach these skills with methodical exactitude to acquire them. Without these skills and proof of applying them in work experience graduates are at a huge disadvantage in an already competitive job market.
In the next two blog posts we’ll be looking at the ten skills highlighted by the CBI and why you need to build them into your work experience during your studies – if not before.

Core skill 1: Self Motivation
Take a CV to employers that says you worked during your studies and it shows a lot more than motivation on a day-to-day basis. It says you have the determination to look for, apply and find experience – in addition to your studies – because you realise it is for your future benefit. Motivate yourself to do jobs even when you don’t feel like it then you will have something to talk about at the interview.

Core skill 2: Communication
Not only do employers want to know that you understand the difference between speaking to senior staff, colleagues and clients, but communication is your only tool in the interview room. There is no place for nerves in a job interview and the more comfortable you are with communicating the better you will be able to express yourself in front of potential employers. Seek out opportunities to communicate with as wide a variety of people at work as you possibly can. Note the differences.

Core skill 3: Learning
At university you learn by studying, but when it comes to the workplace you have to learn by doing and employers want to know you have experience of putting knowledge into practice. This is why it is so important that you can get work experience in a similar field to your studies or at least a position that requires many of the same skills. Aim to learn new things so you can perform tasks better, then talk about it.

Core skill 4: Leadership & Teamwork
Almost every interview will ask you to give examples of when you have shown leadership and teamwork. There are times when it pays to speak up and give your ideas, help others and take the lead – but you can never forget that you are part of a team. Which means you need to know when to chip in and how your role fits in and contributes to those around you.

Core skill 5: Relationship Building
There are a number of complex relationships in the workplace that need to run smoothly and employers want to know you can work effectively in each of them. You don’t have to be friends with everyone, but you need to show that you can work professionally with senior staff, colleagues and customers – whatever relationship you have with them. Get to know staff, clients and customers by repeated contact. Follow up promises and help solve problems. That’s how you build relationships.

In Part Two we will take a look at the other five skills highlighted by the CBI and other ideas about how to get work experience as part of your uni exit strategy.

Land the Right Graduate Job: A 4-Step University Exit Strategy

There was a lot of talk in the Summer about a rise in graduate employment and signs of recovery for the UK job market, however unreliable figures could be painting an overly optimistic picture for many students who want to land the right graduate job after they graduate.

With a record number of university applications for 2014 and figures that suggest 1 in 4 graduates quit their first position within a year, students in the UK still face a highly competitive and often disappointing job market once they finish their studies.

Which means you can’t afford to wait until graduation to start thinking about employment and students need to start planning their university exit strategies now, in order to find the right job when they leave.

  1. Create a list of companies

With 25 per cent of graduates quitting their first job within a year, and 35 per cent failing to find a job in their preferred field, there is an obvious problem with students landing the wrong type of job after they graduate. This is understandable, considering how tough the job market is right now and how desperate many students are to find work – but this doesn’t have to be you.

With the right planning you can get your job hunt started long before you graduate. Start by creating a list of companies you would like to work for and these will be the focus of your uni exit strategy.

Get an edge on the competition early and you stand a fighting chance of not only staying out of the unemployed graduate demographic, but finding a job worth all that hard study.

  1. Build an online name for yourself

The internet is an incredibly powerful networking tool – so use it. Start a blog and publish articles about your field of study, with an emphasis on the areas that you want to move into professionally. You can use this blog to grow your contact list and even become an authority in your field over time.

Share your articles on social media and follow the leading experts in your target industry as well as key people at the companies you want to work for. Many of these people will have their own blogs or publications they write for, as well as events they speak at.

Approach each contact with an article that has something new to say and offer it as a free guest blog or resource for their own publications. This is a common trick used by content marketers to grow their contact list and even if your article doesn’t get used it gives you a genuine reason to reach out to influential figures and a chance to impress.

  1. Go to industry events

There is an offline world of contacts for you to go out there and meet as well, so get involved in events related to your studies. You will find conferences, lectures, exhibitions and all kinds of events linked to your future career across the country, and these can be networking goldmines.

Research each event before you go, and get to know everything you can about important guests and specific themes that will be covered. Brush up on your knowledge in key areas and equip yourself with everything you need to mingle with the right people and make an impression.

It also helps to print some business cards before you attend any event. You don’t need anything flash, just a professional card with your name, contact details, university and area of study.

  1. Turn spare time into experience

The main disadvantage graduates have when it comes to landing a decent job is a lack of experience. You have already shown you have the initiative to make things happen by planning and networking your uni exit strategy, now all you need is proof that you can apply your skills in the workplace.

You have roughly three years to build up enough part-time work, summer jobs and internships to impress your contacts and future employers. Use this time to prove you were born to work in a company like theirs and you will leave university with a killer CV and an exit strategy designed to land the perfect job for you.

Before you go, check out our post sharing 6 tips for finding a graduate job.