In our last article we looked at five essential skills a graduate needs to get employed – as highlighted by the CBI. Unfortunately these skills can only be picked up in the workplace, which leaves students in a vicious cycle if they can’t find the right experience before they graduate.
Employers want proof that you have what it takes, but you can’t get this with out evidence from an internship or previous work. Which means you need to find relevant experience that shows you have the skills they need – and today we’re looking at the last five things employers look for in a graduate.
Core skill 6: Organisation
Obviously you have to organise yourself when it comes to your studies, exams and handing in assignments. But employers want to see you have professional experience of organisation in the workplace. It’s about much more than time keeping or keeping your work space and tools in order. You want specific examples of times you have had to juggle multiple tasks at once, prioritise and meet deadlines – both as an individual and part of a team.
Core skill 7: Focus
You will often hear ‘time is money’ in the workplace and you don’t have time to lose focus on day-to-day tasks or long-term projects. Even exciting jobs come with their boring moments and work experience in your field shows future employers that you have the focus to get the menial tasks done as well.
Core skill 8: Personal Development
Every employer wants to know you have the ability to learn and improve. You might think this is a given when you’re a graduate, but personal development in the workplace is very different to studying at university. You need to develop practical skills, accept critical feedback and spot areas where you can improve. If you can take examples of doing this into the interview room then you stand a much better chance of landing the job.
Core skill 9: Business Awareness
Business awareness is one of the most desired skills employers look for in a graduate. You don’t have to be a commercial expert, but business owners want applicants who understand the ins and outs of business operation, marketing, financial management and human resources. So, whether you get an internship or paid work during your studies, take an interest in the day-to-day running of the business and show this in your interview.
Core skill 10: Sector Awareness
Which brings us on to sector awareness – and this where you really need relevant experience in your field of work. Each business sector comes with its own challenges, beyond the standard business rules that apply to any company, and employers want to see that you know enough about the industry. The best way to do this is with relevant work experience where you can see the challenges and opportunities a business faces in your industry and show this understanding to potential employers. You can also gain valuable insights by attending or familiarising yourself with trade fairs or magazines that serve your chosen industry; joining LinkedIn groups and by subscribing to relevant blogs.
Finding the right work experience
Many of the core skills employers look for can be found in any job, but it’s vital that you can show evidence of applying these skills within your area of studies. Start by looking at internships within companies you want to work for – or very similar companies. This will show your future employer you have what it takes to start your working career with them.