The 9 core skills graduates need in the first two years of work

Oct 20, 2016

Just started working and keen to get ahead? Here are the core skills graduates need in the first two years of work.

If you’ve recently landed a job and want to go far in your career, you should start to develop the core skills graduates need in the first two years of work.

Research shows that 90 per cent of business leaders believe that employees with strong people skills make better commercial impact; and 85 per cent see technical skills as the basic necessity for new hires – but soft skills are the characteristic that sets them apart. People with good soft skills advance faster and are more likely to be retained and promoted.

So here are the core skills you need to build within your first two years of work. Work on acquiring these and they will place you in good stead for the rest of your working life.

  1. How to get along well with others

Business is essentially about building relationships with other people, or else what’s the point? For this reason, learning to be good with people is a skill you must build as early as possible during the first two years of work. Being able to work with lots of different personality types is crucial, especially in today’s global business environment. While some people are naturally empathic most of us aren’t, so practice the skill of empathy.

  1. How to build networks of friendships with work mates

The most valuable core skill you can develop during your first two years at work is to learn how to build a professional network of friends with people who can help you in some way or another. The key is not just to build networks, but to build networks that are reciprocal. That’s where the real value lies. No one likes selfish people who are in it only for what they can get. Scratch other people’s backs as you never know when your own back will need scratching in a place you are unable to reach.

  1. How to be resilient

There will be tough days. The sooner you recognise and develop strategies to adapt to whatever comes your way, the more you will enjoy your work and the faster you will progress. Resilience helps you learn – any skill worth mastering takes resilience, patience and persistence. Perhaps more importantly, this is a skill that will set you up with a reputation as one who gets on with it and is great to work with.

  1. How to talk sensibly to bosses

This is about appearing knowledgeable, clued-up and sensible. Listen out for and be vigilant about what makes your boss tick. Be open to learning opportunities (informal and otherwise) and read widely (both in and outside your industry and interest areas). Widening your knowledge makes you appear more intelligent and rounded; you’ll find that much of what you learn is transferable and can help you in lots of other ways too. It will build your self-esteem but also help you bond with your boss, clients and colleagues.

  1. How to recognise and think through problems

I really love that quote, that “quiet, calm deliberation disentangles every knot”. If you rush into situations and decisions you could find yourself making important decisions based on assumption rather than facts, so stop, breathe and take your time when analysing any problem. When facts behind a problem become clear, it’s as good as solved.

  1. Understand what you need to deliver in your job to keep bosses happy

Be clear on your main job priorities and do whatever you can to ensure you meet your obligations. No one is going to pat you on the back if you spend your time doing great work that has little to do with what your boss asked for, no matter how great it is. An understanding of how your role fits into the organisation – who is who and what they do – could help you understand your own job better.

  1. Understand how your organisation works and makes money

What does the company really do and what type of business is it in? These may seem like obvious questions but many a new hire joins a company and gets on with his or her job without paying attention to what makes that company or organisation tick. Know your key numbers – the bottom-line facts and figures, the top performing products, services and people that make the difference.

  1. Understand how your industry works

Learn as much as possible about your industry. Read both the trade press and the company’s internal news bulletins. Find out how well the company is doing compared to others in the industry.

  1. The last of the core skills graduates need is the mind-set of the extra mile

You were employed to do your job so if you aim to do that you’ll do okay. However, if you want to do better than just okay then aim to over-deliver. Is there something extra you can do for a colleague, client or customer? Make more effort when presenting information, get back to people sooner than you promised or suggest an option no one considered. Whenever you can, go the extra mile.

These are the core skills graduates in the first two years of work. Start now. As you do so, people –bosses, colleagues and clients – will notice you for the right reasons.

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