Career advice should increase your employability


The best career advice that you could hope to receive as a graduate who wants to get started on the career ladder is how to develop your employability skills.

The term ’employability’ describes a set of job skills that are central to a wide range of graduate careers. Whilst specialist skills and experience are also important, if you cannot demonstrate and convince an employer that you have these ‘soft skills’ you are very unlikely to pass an interview no matter how much experience you have.

The CBI (Confederation British Industry) defines employability as: “A set of attributes, skills and knowledge that all labour market participants should possess to ensure they have the capability of being effective in the workplace… to the benefit of themselves, their employer and and the wider economy.”

Thankfully, career advice and coaching can help you to pull these vital skills to the fore and improve your interview skills.

The 8 key bits of career advice every graduate needs

Here are the 8 key employability skills you need to be able to demonstrate on both your CV and in any interview:

  1. Positive Attitude

    The absolute number one on any employer’s wish list. You really need to be able to show that you have that “can do” attitude, an ability to get things done even when the odds have been against you. Saatchi and Saatchi’s mantra has always been “Nothing is impossible”. You could do a lot worse than to bear that in mind when you are being interviewed. The recent interview with the Head of AXA in the UK reiterated this point. Nobody wants to hire negative people, life is tough enough as it is! If you find it difficult to be positive consider graduate coaching: it can help you to improve your confidence.

  2. Self Management

    Self-explanatory this one – do you readily accept responsibility, can you self-start? How is your time management? Can you take criticism okay so long as it is constructive? If you are overly needy and constantly need others to carry you along then that may just be a bad sign.

  3. Team Working

    You will not only be asked about your team working skills but be tested with at least one team working scenario during the interviewing process. It is an area where many students fall down as they either attempt to dominate the group or even worse don’t say anything. Team working is how the world works (unless you are planning on working from home) and you simply have to be able to prove that you are happy working with a disparate group of people towards a common goal. If you don’t think you possess enough of these skills at the moment, get them fast!

  4. Problem Solving

    Is this something that comes to you easily? Can you evidence examples of it at an interview? Likely you will be asked to demonstrate the steps you took to solve a particular problem, what the outcome was and what you learnt from the experience. The interviewer will be listening very carefully for signs that indicate your approach to problems – positive or negative.

  5. Entrepreneurship / Enterprise

    Basically this means an ability to demonstrate an innovative approach, creativity, collaboration and risk taking. You do not necessarily have to demonstrate that you are the next Richard Branson but every organisation both public and private sector, is desperate to recruit individuals who have this magic quality. An individual with these skills can make a major difference to any organisation.

  6. Communication and Literacy

    The biggest bugbear of employers nowadays is that most students can not express themselves clearly in writing and that their general literacy skills are terrible. Over 50% of graduate job applications have at least one grammatical error. All those CVs are automatically binned. Be ready for impromptu testing on your report writing skills. You need to be able to express yourself clearly and precisely on paper, so if you can’t at the moment then start practising.

  7. Numeracy

    No one is looking for Einstein but everyone should be fluent in the practical application of maths to everyday business life. You will be asked for your ability to interpret tables of numbers, graphs, spreadsheets etc.

  8. Business Awareness

    Last but not least, an awareness of business and customers. No matter whether you are going to work in the private or public sector, employers will be looking for you to demonstrate some basic awareness of how business works. After all even the public sector talks about customer satisfaction. The more real time experience you can demonstrate via internships etc, the better. Employers find it hard enough employing graduates; having to then go and teach them the basic theories of business is never ever going to be top of their priorities.

  9. All of this may seem to be a long way from your degree, but it’s these practical skills that employers look for. Be honest with yourself – do you (and maybe your friends) think that you have these skills in abundance? If not are there ways you can acquire them quickly? In a market where the employer is king you need to be able to demonstrate all of these key attributes.

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