Whether you’re still a student or a recent graduate, you’ve probably been told about a million times that getting a job isn’t just about your degree. In today’s tough job market, grads are expected to hit the ground running – so if you’ve already got a solid degree under your belt, that’s great, but you will need to supplement it with the following marketable skills:
1) Commercial awareness
If you want to work for top-tier companies in any industry, you have to do your homework. How does the industry work? For that matter, how does the company you’re applying to work? What makes it tick? What makes it stand out from its competition? Your understanding of the industry needs to demonstrate both breadth and depth, especially if you wind up being quizzed on the company’s statistics. Nothing’s more awkward than declaring your passion for a company and its values, only to be unable to list any notable accomplishments or changes of the company in at least the previous year.
Employers want team players, so always highlight instances of that. No matter what field you’re in, you’ll probably be expected to work with a certain team – and if you’re on any kind of graduate scheme, you’re likely to be moved from department to department every so often, requiring adaptability within your teamwork skills. Working on projects and brainstorming ideas all require a degree of collaboration, and integrating well within a group is an admirable skill in any situation – but especially if you want to advance within the company.
3) Problem solving
When you’re at work, you’re likely to encounter lots of different problems and situations that’ll require careful navigation to resolve successfully. If you can demonstrate an ability to analyze a problem and formulate a strategy to solve it effectively, this will impress your employers.
Are you able to take charge confidently in a situation? Can you influence a set of people and make decisions? Being a team player is important, but only a few people have a demonstrated aptitude to lead. Bear in mind that being a good leader is not the same thing as aggressively taking charge every time you’re in a group situation. You need to show that you’re good at taking initiative, working well with everyone to make decisions, and winning people over.
You don’t want employers to think you’re likely to go to pieces when juggling multiple deadlines, projects, or commitments. Most jobs require applicants to be able to manage their time effectively and prioritise deadlines. If necessary, you should be able to delegate or reassign less important tasks to focus on important ones. Ideally, you should be able to work with little to no supervision and still get everything done on time.
One key thing that could set you apart from other job candidates is how motivated you appear. You can’t really describe yourself as motivated if you’ve never worked on anything outside your degree, whether by collaborating on creative projects, taking part in extra-curricular activities, joining a society or team, or anything that shows an interest in broadening your horizons or honing your skills.
Ah, the Catch-22 of employment – you can’t get a job if you have no experience, but you need a job to
get experience. Fortunately, there are ways around this. Having a part-time job while you study shows excellent time management skills – even if it’s working as a cashier in a supermarket, that’s still demonstrable customer service ability. Summer internships and vacation schemes are advertised to students throughout the academic year, so there’s plenty of time for you to apply – check out your university careers service for resources and advice. With luck, you should have a well-rounded set of experiences you can draw upon when asked to show examples of how you’ve dealt with problems or resolved issues in a professional working environment.
About the Author:
Are you a student or an employer? What skills do you feel are vital when it comes to snagging that job? Share your opinions and experiences in the comments!
Louise Blake is a blogger and a first-time mother with a degree in Creative Writing. She currently writes part-time for Carrot Rewards , and is interested in education and the developments in the job market.